Posted by: Kelley Dees | May 22, 2011

Looking Back: Tornado in Laramie

The 2008 Laramie Tornado

I’m from an area where tornadoes regularly touch down. If you’re having a backyard barbecue, a tornado is likely to show up, whether you invited it or not! From what I hear, they aren’t as common here in Wyoming. However, three years ago today, a tornado touched down in Laramie. While these are rare occurrences, they do still happen here. In memory of those who suffered damage from that storm, let’s look at ways to overcome disaster.

Recovering from disaster: Families that cope best with disasters are those that successfully adjust to other normal life crises. These families take an optimistic view of the disaster and see the hardships as challenges to overcome. Strong families and individuals see themselves as survivors, not victims. Some of the more successful strategies for recovering from disasters include:

  • Preparing and anticipating: One of the best ways to cope with disaster is to be prepared before it ever strikes. If a family home borders a national forest and is thus more vulnerable to a forest fire, does the family have an evacuation plan? What steps can be taken before a fire that will reduce property damage?
  • Uniting as a family: The family is the major source of help for disaster victims. If the family provides emotional support, encouragement, and even economic relief where needed, the affected disaster victims are more likely to recover successfully.
  • Expecting to recover: A family that expects to recover successfully is more likely to do so than a family who believes there is little hope.
  • Returning to normal: Resuming normal daily activities is an important step in recovery. A family does much better if members make the best of the situation and return to as normal a daily pattern as possible.
  • Finding solutions: An attitude of developing strategies to cope with the aftermath of the natural disaster is more effective in recovery than adopting a blaming attitude. A family faced with a disaster should prioritize needs and develop an action plan for recovery.
  • Taking advantage of help: A family that uses all available recovery resources will recover faster and more successfully than a family that attempts to “go it alone” without the help of others.

Natural disasters not only leave a trail of property destruction in their wake, but can also leave survivors with a damaged sense of security. In addition to restoring buildings and replacing material possessions, families need to devote time to restoring their own emotional equilibrium during the recovery period. Families can take positive action to survive and become stronger because of a disaster. Just keep telling yourself “tomorrow will be better” and eventually it will.

Damage from the 2008 Laramie Tornado

This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.

This information is adapted from The Personal Nature of Agriculture: Recovering from natural disasters by Dr. Randy R. Weigel, Extension Specialist, University of Wyoming, Cooperative Extension Service.

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