How Do Tornadoes Affect People?

Ryan McGinnis/Moment/Getty Images

Tornadoes injure and kill people, destroy property, take a heavy financial toll, disrupt communication and create severe anxiety. The number of deaths due to tornadoes varies significantly from year to year. For example, according to NOAA, in 2008, 126 people died, but in the following year, only 21 lives were lost. Tornadoes killed 553 people in 2011, but just 70 in 2012.

Though tornadoes cause injury during the storm, a great deal of harm occurs after the storm, as well. In these cases, people are trying to rescue others, clean up, inspect damage or simply move through the affected area. Power lines and gas lines are often disturbed, leading to explosions or electrocutions. Phone lines come down, and those that still work are overtaxed. A single tornado can cause millions or billions of dollars of destruction. A May 2013 tornado in Oklahoma killed more than 20 people and injured dozens. Initial economic damages were estimated at $1.2 billion to $2 billion. Surviving a severe storm affects some people’s emotional well-being, especially children. They fear a re-occurrence or being left alone during a storm. Some see the tornado as punishment for bad behavior. Individuals of all ages seek professional counseling to deal with the aftermath of the storm.