If you spot a tornado, video is last thing you should do

If you spot a tornado or waterspout, such as seen in this file photo of a waterspout near Biloxi, take immediate shelter.
If you spot a tornado or waterspout, such as seen in this file photo of a waterspout near Biloxi, take immediate shelter. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com File

We all hope there is no next time but we all know there will be. There will be another tornado on the Coast.

And since there is some confusion about how to act, let’s review.

Step one: Get yourself, your family and friends, whoever is with you, out of harm’s way.

Step two: Report to the proper authorities the tornado, or flash flood, or whatever weather event is occurring that could put others in the vicinity in harm’s way. Calling 911 will get the message to those who can quickly alert others.

Step three: If you can safely take video of the tornado, do so. We love to see the power of nature on display. But don’t risk getting smacked by a flying board to do it.

But that isn’t what happened when a waterspout came on shore and tore up a building at the Chevron Refinery in Pascagoula.

Chevron spokesman Alan Sudduth said he’s not sure who the people are in the video but it is clear they are not taking shelter immediately. And, Sudduth said that Chevron personnel didn’t notify emergency management officials because tornadoes were not on the list of things they were supposed to notify them about.

“Our employees, our Chevron employees, reacted, I think, appropriately,” he said. “Their first reaction was to look out for their safety. We tell everybody here if you see something like that, the first thing you do is seek shelter and then to the extent you can, notify the leadership of the refinery what’s going on.”

He said Chevron has a list of a “variety of things” that it will notify the Emergency Management Services about: “releases, flaring events, any kind of activity within the refinery that we think has the possibility of impacting folks outside the refinery.” Now, weather events are on the list.

Jackson County Director of Emergency Services Earl Etheridge agreed they had never discussed what to do in a weather event but now “we have things worked out.”

“Part of the problem falls back on the people taking the pictures,” he said. “Instead of calling 911, or letting the refinery know, they posted it on social media.”

We couldn’t agree more. We all have a duty to help keep others out of danger.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.