Archived Story

Nobody to blame

Published 9:14pm Monday, May 12, 2014

Last month, Beaufort County got hit hard, not once, but twice by tornadoes. The entire county is lucky — extremely lucky — no one was killed during those storms.

Here in eastern North Carolina, we know our hurricane drills really well: the day before, stock up on batteries, food, water, ice; protect exterior windows if deemed appropriate, secure items in the yard, move personal property above water lines; have radio, flashlight and first aid handy. Then we all sit and wait for the storm to arrive.

We watch its slow approach: the bands clouds that precede it, the gradual darkening of the sky, the rise of the river and the eventual rain. We marvel in its awesome power as trees bend under the force of the wind and river waves take on oceanic proportions. The electricity goes out, we resign ourselves to our supplies. Eventually, the storm moves on. If you live in North Carolina for any amount of time, it becomes pretty cut and dried after a while.

But tornadoes? That’s a storm of a different color. Folks’ roofs were ripped from over their heads, walls were shattered by trees flung as if they had all the weight of matchsticks, mobile homes were rolled and shredded, their contents destroyed — and it all came without warning.

But here’s the rub: those whose lives and belongings were affected by April’s tornadoes — do you think if they had to do it over again, they would appreciate some warning? Do you think that if they had an extra five or 10 minutes, they would make different choices? Go someplace safer? Or rescue a particularly sentimental object — a family photo, perhaps?

Beaufort County Emergency Management is trying to give people that warning with a program called Hyper-Reach. You sign up for it, register your phone to an address, and if a tornado is coming your way, it’s going to call every single line you have listed to let you know you need to get to safety. It’s a lot more specific than a tornado warning for the whole county. Your phone’s only going to ring if you are in the path of an oncoming tornado. And you’d better move quickly.

All the damage done over several hours by a hurricane happens within minutes with the caliber of tornadoes we’ve been seeing of late. Do yourself, and your loved ones a favor and give yourself some warning.

Sign up for Hyper-Reach. It’s free. And the best deal you can possibly get if it saves even a single life.

You can sign up for Hyper-Reach at


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