HOSCHTON — The late April tornado outbreak that killed hundreds across the South inspired Mary Smith of South Hall to take action in her own community.
She first thought about how just she and her husband could protect themselves. But then she began looking at the community around her, Village at Deaton Creek.
It's tight-knit, in a neighborly sort of way, but also tightly fit.
"As one of our residents has said, as close as our homes are to one another, a tornado in our community would be disastrous," she said.
"There wouldn't be just one home that would be touched. It would be a number of them."
The community has about 750 homes and 1,200 residents.
Smith organized a disaster preparedness seminar, held Wednesday evening at the subdivision off Thompson Mill Road near the Gwinnett County line.
"I am trying to introduce our residents to the various resources that are available to them in event we face (a disaster)," she said, also citing a November tornado that struck near the Mall of Georgia in Gwinnett last year.
"Since we are 55-plus," Smith said, referring to the older adults that Deaton Creek is marketed toward, "this is something that we definitely need to have available to us."
Emergency agencies and businesses involved in disasters, such as insurance companies, attended the seminar, setting up tables with brochures and other information.
Representatives of several of those groups, including Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell, spoke to the crowd that had packed into a clubhouse meeting room.
"I hope you don't have to use us, but rest assured that we're there if you need us," Kimbrell said.
In talking about tornado preparation, he said Hall County, because of budget woes, can't put up a weather siren in the community like it has in other places around the county.
"The answer to that is weather radios," Kimbrell said. "Make sure you have one in your home."
He also urged residents to plan on taking cover at home.
"You never know exactly where the tornado is. A lot of times, people will leave their home to go to a shelter and be caught up in a tornado," Kimbrell said.
Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle told residents to maintain smoke alarms, develop and practice escape plans in case of a fire and keep a 5- to 10-pound fire extinguisher on hand.
"A lot of things we have seen over time can be prevented by taking simple little steps," he said.
Smith, pleased with Wednesday's turnout, said she hopes the issue wouldn't go away after Wednesday's session.
"We will have additional meetings that will be expanded on in greater detail on subjects that the residents feel (are important)," she said.