Lake Township is no stranger to severe weather, and as nearly 150 Wood County residents packed Lake High School's new auditorium for SKYWARN severe weather spotter training, many were eerily reminded of the EF-4 tornado that ripped through the school nearly three years ago.
The National Weather Service of Cleveland presented residents and first responders with comprehensive training on how to accurately identify and report severe weather occurrences to the NWS.
"We use that information in combination with technology like radar information to make warning decisions," said Warning Coordinator Meteorologist Gary Garnet. "The more spotters we have in a community, the more information we get for that community, the better warning service you're going to get."
Wood County Emergency Management Director Brad Gilbert says the SKYWARN program helps him to get accurate, eyewitness information, that helps him make life-saving decisions. "Our biggest thing is to eliminate those false reports, get very accurate reports, so that the warnings the National Weather Service are putting out are very accurate and very timely," said Gilbert. "With that information, we can start to save more lives."
For a community that has seen loss and devastation, the training is just another step in rebuilding.
"It's just amazing how much can change in two or three years - how much the city has changed, how much the damage did impact the city, and how much they recovered from it," said University of Toledo student Jacob Torres. Torres says he and his father assisted in search and rescue after the Lake tornado of 2010.
Wood County EMA volunteer public information officer Sue Gavron says she was one of the first people on the scene after the tornado tore through the school. Tuesday night was her first time back in Lake High School since it's reconstruction. "To walk in today and see this building, and to walk through it, and it's whole again - it's not in pieces, it's whole again. That was a good feeling, but it was also odd to know what went on here. The people's lives impacted and how hard everybody worked," said Gavron. "The community - by looking at the school - is whole again."
NWS Cleveland will host one more SKYWARN training session this Spring:
Thursday, April 25 at 6:30 pm Tri Rivers JVS in Marion County.222 Marion-Mt. Gilead Rd., Marion, OH 43302