St. Louis Tornadoes Give Perspective to Columbia Residents
COLUMBIA - After spotting a dangerous storm six miles south of Ashland around 5:30 p.m. Friday, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for southeastern Boone County.
Nicole Sylvestri said she was asleep as the sirens blared but admitted she would not have sought cover anyway. Grant Paris, a restaurant employee, said the patrons at his business "laughed it off and ordered a few more drinks." Others said they turned on the television but did not head to a basement or interior room.
After a tornado blasted Lambert Airport in nearby St. Louis that night and leveled surrounding neighborhoods, however, some residents said they would rethink their safety plan for storms.
"I just never take it seriously. I grew up in St. Louis and every time a tornado siren went off, there was never a tornado in sight," Sylvestri said. "[But seeing St. Louis] freaked me out. Maybe I'll actually start going to the basement."
Rena Barron said was preparing to leave during the storm and did not find shelter, but she was "shocked and surprised" by the images of the tornado in St. Louis. The scene moved her so much, in fact, that she said she will take tornado warnings more seriously from now on.
The wreckage did not affect every Columbia citizen's storm habits, of course.
"I kind of stick to my own battle strategies against tornadoes," Paris said.
According to the NWS, people without basements should find hallways or interior rooms on the first floor and hide under an item of furntiture. It also cautions to stay away from windows and abandon cars and mobile homes in the event of a tornado.