I used to live in the midwest and experienced more violent storms then I can remember.
Lighting is a lot of energy during a very short time. Being near a large strike will subject your equipment to a rather big emf pulse. The only way to avoid most damage is to disconnect everything that's attached to everything else; so that there are no wires that can act as antenna to pick up a pulse and blow out what the wire is connected to.
A lot of the surge protectors are really protection for surges across the line. They help somewhat when there's a sharp spike of voltage on the power line, or sometimes if there's a mild amount of static on the cable/phone/dsl line. They're good when you have lousy power or a bad storm is approaching, but can't be trusted to do much during a violent thunder storm.
Unfortunately, lighting has it's own rules, mostly producing what seems to be total chaos in potential differences in the air around it. And of course, there's those pulses. I had a friend who was sitting in a room during a storm and a small lighting strike entered some part of the house. There was a discharge across the room and over his head, at least that's what others saw, because he didn't remember a thing.
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