Traverse City Record-Eagle

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April 28, 2013

Public safety leaders encourage readiness

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“We’ve had some wind storms over the years,” Anderson said. “In 2006, a straight line wind came through…wind with snow is the biggest threat.”

2. Tornadoes

Few locals think tornadoes are a concern in northern Michigan. That’s false. Tornadoes are rare here but they do happen and can be deadly: an October 2007 tornado in Kalkaska County killed one. From 1953 to 2004, there were three tornadoes in Leelanau County, four each in Benzie and Grand Traverse, six in Kalkaska and eight in Antrim County. Have a safety plan in place for your household and contact your county emergency manager for details on shelters within driving distance.

“They are always something to think about and prepare for,” said Jeff Lutz, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Gaylord. “It’s one of those things where you can’t say it’s never going to happen to you.”

Leelanau County carried out a county-wide tornado preparation drill April 10, working with county schools on their emergency response plan.

3. Crime and terrorism

The possibility of a gunman rampaging through a public place or terrorists striking at a crowded community event is something no one likes to think about, but we need to, said public safety leaders, with an emphasis on prevention.

“What happened in Boston, it can happen here,” said Grand Traverse County Emergency Management Supervisor Gregg Bird. “It can happen anywhere. Can you prevent something like that 100 percent? In my opinion, no, but you can have emergency management plans in place to help minimize that risk or be able to respond quickly, efficiently and effectively.”

Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich said the sheriff's department regularly trains for such scenarios. He said the trend of mass violence in public places started with shootings at postal facilities in the 1980s, and they've since morphed into a beyond-troubling phenomenon he blames in part on media-glorified violence.

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