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Preparing for the Worst: The Calm Before a Severe Storm

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- For many Iowans, preparing for severe weather doesn't involve a whole lot.

"Just obviously make sure my windows are rolled up in my car and that's about it," said Josie Burmeister.

"We just had a conversation about bringing in our indoor hanging plant baskets into the garage," said Denise Hamlet..

But for Dave Wilson, the director of the Johnson County Emergency Management Agency, it's a different story.

"Since 9 this morning we've been watching the radar, watching the weather like everybody else," Wilson said.

Their eyes are on the skies, too, looking for the signs of a tornado. Johnson County has 100 civilian spotters and all public safety employees are trained spotters, as well.

That just get a lot more difficult as the sun goes down, however.

"As night falls, that becomes really difficult, because you don't have the benefit of daylight to see what's going on," Wilson said.

If a tornado does touch down, they'll activate the sirens and work to make sure people are in a tornado-safe place.

Next, they'll work on damage control and injuries.

"Get those people the help they need, and then mitigate disasters, like, turn off the gas lines, keep people away from electricity, get that shut off," he said.

The weather is supporting tornado activity, Wilson said, so people need to think practically about what they'll do if one hits.

"You try and plan for the worst, hope for the best in our line of work. And you certainly don't want anything bad to happen, but you want to be prepared," he said.

Wilson also said that the flash flooding in April may qualify for individual assistance from the federal government. Johnson County EMA is currently working with Homeland Security to try to get that funding. He said if this current storm is bad enough, they'll work to get as much money to aid in recovery as possible, too.
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