PRINCETON — High winds, flooding and several tornado scares in the region Thursday gave Gibson Countians an early introduction to Severe Weather Preparedness Week, which is observed March 17-23.

The National Weather Service in Paducah, Kentucky, issued several severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado warnings Thursday morning in Gibson and neighboring counties.

The county remained under a high wind advisory into the evening, with sustained 30 mph winds and gusts of 45 to 55 mph.

Gibson County Central Dispatch was busy Thursday afternoon dispatching crews to reports of downed trees and power lines, road signs blown into the roadway and other wind-related incidents.

As the line of storms passed through the county at mid-morning Thursday, first responders were dispatched to an accident on U.S. 41 near County Road 575 North. In other counties in the area, some cars were flipped over by the high winds associated with the tornadic storms, according to news reports.

The county also remains under a river flood advisory into next week.

IDHS issued an advisory Thursday encouraging Hoosiers to prepare for severe weather as a part of Severe Weather Awareness Week.

“Severe Weather Preparedness Week serves as a great reminder of the increased potential for thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding in Indiana during the spring and early summer,” said David Hosick, director of public affairs at IDHS.

IDHS encourages Hoosiers to build a disaster preparedness kit, identify shelter and practice emergency plans during this year’s preparedness week.

Ten items to include in a household disaster preparedness kit include:

1. Food and water for three days (include one gallon of water per person, per day)

2. Battery operated all hazard radio (receives more than 60 types of emergency alerts)

3. Flashlight

4. Extra batteries for radio and flashlight, if needed

5. First aid kit

6. Extra clothing, sturdy shoes, rain gear, blankets and personal hygiene items

7. List of emergency phone numbers

8. Important documents (copies of photo ID, social security card, insurance and banking information)

9. Cash (small bills. Power outages can limit ability to use ATMs and credit cards)

10. Special items (baby formula, insulin, life-sustaining medication, pet supplies)

As part of Severe Weather Preparedness Week, a statewide tornado drill is planned for 10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, March 19 to provide an opportunity for families, schools and businesses to practice severe weather emergency plans. Some ways families can practice during the statewide tornado drill are:

Take household members – quickly but calmly – to the location they would move to in severe weather, ideally a basement. If a basement is not available, go to an interior room on the lowest level with no windows. Storm cellars also offer excellent protection.

Practice moving under a sturdy table or desk, or covering up with pillows, blankets, coats or a mattress to protect the head and body from flying debris.

Walk through potential evacuation routes, both from the home and the neighborhood.

Conduct a family drill in which children pretend to call 911 and calmly talk with an emergency dispatcher (a family member or friend can be on the other end of the line, requesting appropriate information).

Finding suitable shelter is another aspect to prepare for severe weather. If living in a mobile home or similar manufactured structure, it is important to locate a safe shelter in advance. For those living in homes or apartment buildings, residents should take shelter in the lowest level of the building, away from windows and doors.

Flooding also threatens Hoosiers during the spring months. Driving on flooded roadways can often place Hoosiers and emergency response personnel in unnecessary danger. Never drive through flooded roadways, even if the water appears shallow. The road may have washed out under the surface of the water.

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