Not many people had ever heard of Lakeland, Fl until March 31, 2011. Lakeland, Florida was predicted to get rain all week, which wasn’t unusual Florida weather, but never once had the thought of a tornado crossed anyone’s minds. Thursday morning was an interesting morning. Lakeland was under tornado watch until 1pm; however, we had many tornado warnings before. It was just another day of walking to class and getting a text from the school predicating a tornado warning, but classes were still in session. I remember sitting in class winds roaring, hail hitting the windows, black sky’s. We knew then we needed to seek shelter. We were evacuated from our buildings and immense amounts of damage had been done.

This was a different story for members at Sun ‘n Fun. Sun ‘n Fun is an aviation expo that occurs every year. Unfortunately they had to cancel their show on Thursday due to the tornado. At first, word got out to news stations that a building was struck and collapsed and individuals were trapped in side. This is how rumors start ladies and gentlemen. The real story is that in fact a tornado did touch down on the field of Sun ‘n fun but no one was injured. A tent did collapse with a few people underneath, but no one was severely hurt. On the other hand, there was report of a few planes suffering minor damage. Despite the tornado and minor damages, Sun ‘n Fun did continued on the next day.

Four tornado were reportedly spotted on Thursday March 31 in Polk County. The tornado resulted in many power outages across Polk County, tree’s down in the road, flooding and much more! Mainly, we are thankful to be alive. These tornadoes were very much not intended for, but thankfully we took the right precautions. From a PR standpoint, it is important to report on things that we know are true, so rumors do not accumulate from “he said, she said” facts. All I have to say is thank goodness news officials cleared up any confusions on the collapsing of the building because I am sure many families were concerned that their loved ones were trapped inside.

Do you have any recommendations that PR and news officials could improve upon when reporting a story such at this one? Also, what would you have done differently if you were in a dangerous situation like this one?

Finally, here is a short clip of what the weather conditions were like on March 31, 2011:

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