WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Severe Weather Awareness Week is a chance for families to prepare and review their safety plans. One Kansas family’s experience with a tornado dictates their preparations well in advance.
Laurie Fraser’s family home was taken by a tornado in Woodward, Oklahoma, in 1947. It was one of the worst tornadoes in Oklahoma history.
“It was a household story, growing up,” Fraser said.
The tornado happened before she was born, but the disaster changed how her family thought about safety.
The Woodward tornado of 1947 killed at least 107 people and destroyed more than 1,000 homes. One of those homes belonged to Fraser’s grandparents.
She believes her grandparents were not home when their house was destroyed because they did not have a cellar.
“I know that they weren’t at home,” Fraser said. “I just have to believe that because the house was completely wiped off the map.”
Before a new house was built, Fraser’s grandmother was asked what the new house should have. She kept her response short — a cellar.
“I know that from personal experience, because I used to play in that cellar,” Fraser said.
As she grew up, she was intrigued by the weather and researched the Woodward tornado. She began to look ahead at how she and her loved ones can stay safe from tornadoes.
Fraser’s father also played a big part in this. He served as a meteorologist in the Air Force.
“Even into my 20s and 30s, I still had this picture of him in my mind of being someone who maybe was protecting us,” she said.
When severe weather season approaches, Fraser restocks emergency supplies and ensures the cellar in her Towanda home is ready for use.
One of the smallest items is one of the most important.
“I always make sure there’s a whistle in the bag to take downstairs,” she said. “Because if something were to happen and we couldn’t get out and our phones were dead, and I’m not a paranoid person, but I would want somebody to know I was down there.”
Fraser says she is not fearful of severe weather. She respects it.
“Even if everything we own is taken, we still have ourselves, we’re still alive, we’re still going to come through it,” she said.
Even though Fraser is not worried about material things, she still thinks about that family home that was destroyed so many years ago.
“I’ve always regretted that I never got to see it, but I did get to see my grandparents,” she said.
Before severe weather strikes, take the time to have a conversation with your family about where to go and what to do.