However, when it comes to man against nature, a few precautions can mean the difference between life and death in small towns.
Through the determination of the Big Prairie Jaycees and local citizens, the city of Matthews will soon erect a storm warning system designed to alert residents of impending dangers. A check for $16,812.45 was presented Wednesday night to the Matthews City Council.
Matthews Mayor Gene Curtis said anyone who has lived in Southeast Missouri knows the dangers of a tornado and was obviously pleased his community would soon have a system which could sound an alert.
"Everyone has realized the significance of this and everyone has pulled together to get it done," said Curtis, about the warning system.
But, it almost didn't get done.
Originally the city of Matthews had applied for a grant for the siren, however funding was denied.
Allen Shaw, president of Big Prairie Jaycees, said that is when the 100-
member organization decided to take on the project.
"We thought this was a good thing for the city. We have been lucky we haven't been hit (by a tornado)," said Shaw. "We thought we could raise the money and buy the warning system for the city."
The price tag made it one of the biggest project the organization has ever tackled. For nearly a year, the Jaycee members raised funds through benefit dinners, scooter raffles, quilt raffles and other projects.
"This is a tight community. We explained what it is for and told people it was a good thing for the city," Shaw recalled, noting residents responded taking part in the benefits and buying tickets for the raffles.
According to Matthews City Clerk Michael Pyles, the Federal Signal Corporation warning system purchased through Blue Valley Public Safety should go up mid-month.
Erected on top of a 50-foot pole at the westend of the fire station on Main Street in Matthews, the siren should be heard in all directions for approximately two miles. Not only will it issue warnings for inclement weather, Pyles pointed out with a rail line running through the community, the siren can also issue warnings should there be chemical spill which might endanger residents.
As part of the community effort, city workers will install the system with the assistance of Jaycee Don Hart, who has experience installing such equipment, Pyles said. He added by doing this work themselves they are saving some $5,000.
But, Pyles continued, without the Jaycees and their community-oriented efforts none of the project would have been possible.
"The Jaycees do a lot," said Pyles. "It is obvious from what we saw happen up north and what happen in Caruthersville that a tornado can be pretty devastating. We hope (the siren) doesn't have to be used but if it is needed it will take care of our community and can save lives."