Officials urge preparedness with severe weather threat elevated - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Officials urge preparedness with severe weather threat elevated

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

The damage to the Alpha Chi Omega sorority house was one of the iconic images from the April of 2006 tornado that ripped through Iowa City. 30 members of the sorority huddled on the lower floor while winds tore the house to shreds.

"It's heart-wrenching to see the chapter and it looks like a doll house," said Jacklyn Gelman, current president of the Iowa chapter.

With the risk for severe weather elevated this weekend, officials say it's a good time for families to review where they would go when storms hit.

"If you look at any of the storms that have come through the south this year, pretty much everyone that survived had an advanced warning, they had a plan, they knew where their safe-havens were and how to seek shelter," said Dave Wilson, Johnson County Emergency Management Coordinator.

The best place to go is down to the basement.  The next best thing is an inner room away from windows on the home's lowest level.

Bring blankets and pillows to protect from flying debris.

And don't rely on sirens.  Instead tune in to the news or a weather radio.

"I think the biggest misconception we face is you're going to hear the tornado sirens wherever you're at, and that's the one we struggle with constantly. They're an outdoor warning system," Wilson said.

April 13, 2006 is a day many in the Alpha Chi Omega sorority hope they never have to re-live, but they say they're prepared should similar weather strike.

"We just make sure to educate our members in how to be safe," Gelman said.

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