Months after Garner tornado, statewide tornado drill highlights importance of preparedness

Wake County staff to participate in the drill as part of Severe Weather Preparedness Week

lightning strikes wooded area

On Dec. 10, 2023, a tornado touched down in Garner, trampling trees and ripping up roofs. Now, only a few months later, staff at the nearby Wake County Southern Regional Center are emphasizing the importance of preparedness by participating in the annual statewide tornado drill.

Severe weather like December’s tornado can occur with little to no advance warning. Knowing what to expect and practicing your response can reduce panic during those crucial moments. During North Carolina’s Severe Weather Preparedness Week, Wake County Emergency Management officials want to remind residents how important it is to be ready.

“Taking a bit of extra time for preparedness can make a crucial difference in keeping you and your family safe when disaster strikes,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Shinica Thomas. “During Severe Weather Preparedness Week, I urge residents to set aside a few moments for emergency planning with your loved ones.”

Severe Weather Preparedness Week runs from Sunday, March 3, through Saturday, March 9.

Staying Prepared
In 2023, the National Weather Service recorded 25 tornadoes and 131 flash flooding incidents in North Carolina. In Wake County alone, 23 severe thunderstorms were reported, causing estimated property damages totaling more than $116,000.

Severe weather events such as tornadoes are inevitable, which is why Wake County Emergency Management officials recommend using the following safety tips:

  • Sign up for ReadyWake alerts. You can choose to receive notifications about local emergencies via phone, text or email.
  • Have a family emergency plan in place so all members feel prepared during a disaster. Helpful planning tips are available at
  • Know the terms: “Watch” means that conditions are right for a tornado. “Warning” means a tornado has been spotted – take shelter immediately.
  • Know where to go during a tornado. The safest place to shelter from a tornado is a basement or interior room, away from windows.
  • If you are outdoors or driving when a warning is issued, you should never stay in your vehicle or try to outrun a tornado. Do not shelter under an overpass or a bridge. Seek shelter indoors if possible or take cover in a low-lying flat area.
  • Following a storm, beware of danger from debris. Wear sturdy shoes, long sleeves and gloves when walking. Be aware of exposed power or gas lines, broken glass and exposed nails.

More information on severe weather and emergency preparedness can be found at

Press Release