Growing up, I never thought twice about tornado warnings. According to my dad’s favorite story, our hometown is protected from tornadoes. An Indian Chief stood “right here” and proclaimed that a tornado would never touch this land. It’s a story I’ve heard at least 800 times, and the stats seem to back it up. Our little town has had very little tornado activity compared to the surrounding areas.
This story came to mind as the sirens started blaring Monday afternoon. I no longer live in the protected area, a fact that became very clear when I received a text from Almost-Father-In-Law telling me to get to the basement.
I turned on the radio and listened to the reports. A tornado was spotted 8 miles away and was headed towards us at 20 miles an hour. We were advised to take shelter now.
I was rounding up The Princess when Almost-Husband rushed in the door, telling me that we needed to get the basement. Upon opening the door, we found it flooded out, which seems to be a recurring problem. He advised me to stay in the hallway, which runs through the middle of our apartment and has only one window at the far end.
So there I sat, phone in hand and daughter in lap, listening to the droning voices on the radio as they repeated their warnings and gave the latest updates. Damage was indeed occurring in our area.
The air went silent as darkness filled our home. The power was out and suddenly it all seemed very real.
A number of thoughts ran through my mind as we hunkered down in the hallway. Ranging from the practical to the ridiculous:
- The house can blow down, as long as we’re safe and the box containing all my baby pictures and other family mementos doesn’t get destroyed.
- Oh wait. My computer! 300 pages of my novel and countless other ramblings are on there! I’ve never backed it up anywhere else! Why haven’t I backed it up? If it’s destroyed all that work is gone forever…
- I just spent all day cleaning this house. If this tornado ruins all that work I’m going to be pissed.
- What about the new house? We close in three days…it would be just my luck if it get’s wiped out right before we get the keys.
- Why did we ever move? We were safe from this tornado b.s. back home!
- Does our car insurance cover acts of God?
- I really need to steam clean this carpet again when this is over with.
- We’ve only had our car for a month. I don’t want to car shop again.
- Where’s my cat? Is he okay? Why won’t he stay in the damn hallway?!
- I wish I was wearing real-person clothes. I don’t want to be rescued in my sweatpants. I at least should have put on a real bra.
- The Princess is naked. At least she has a pull-up on. From now on she’s wearing clothes, whether she likes it or not. You can’t be naked in an emergency.
Soon it had died down and it was safe to leave the hallway again. Almost-Husband returned to work and I set about finding candles, since the power was still out. The good thing about being Wiccan is you always have enough candles to light a small village. Unfortunately, 90% of my possessions are currently in boxes in preparation for the move, so I had to dig a little to find them.
Once I was sure we’d be able to see, I began worrying about the power being out. I was worried about the food in the fridge going bad. I was worried about the fact that our stove is electric and it was past dinner time. I was worried about not being able to listen to the radio for updates. I was worried about not being able to charge my phone and having an emergency pop up. I was worried about passing the time without my computer, which needed to be charged. I was worried about my schedule being thrown off. I was worried that the worst was yet to come.
I set about letting everyone know that I was safe and started making plans with what to do with the remainder of the night. A friend sent me a text telling me she’d heard that our grocery store had been leveled and the magnitude of the situation really set in.
Almost-Husband returned home shortly thereafter. The shop was closed since there was no power. We milled around the house, trying to decide if the rain had stopped long enough to get the grill going so we could have some dinner.
About an hour later, the power was back. The storm had passed. We hopped in the car and drove over to the new house to see if any damage had been done. A tree had come down in the yard, but it had missed the house and all else looked fine. We decided to head to the gas station and found that everything on that side of town was still without power. Roads were blocked off and there was no where to turn around. We drove out past the grocery store and saw that the diner area had been wiped out along with some other damage to the building.
We had to drive a bit to be able to turn around. The traffic was a bit heavier than normal and when we got back to our side of town, the two gas stations were jam packed. People were coming from surrounding towns to gas up and get whatever they needed, in addition to everyone in town.
As I sit here writing this post, it all seems very surreal. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and everything is peaceful. Although there was significant damage to many buildings and homes, the damage wasn’t nearly as widespread as it could have been, which is something we should all be thankful for. To those who did endure property damage or had their place of business impacted, my heart goes out to you.
As for my family, I am extremely thankful that neither the apartment, nor the home we are purchasing, sustained any damage. We weathered the storm together. Despite my anxiety issues, I managed to stay relatively calm and collected, which is no small feat. And, although there was certainly some fear involved, we made some interesting family memories.
Today, I feel a new sense of clarity. Life is full of storms, and it seems to have been a rather rainy season for our family for a while now, but we always get through it. More importantly, we always come out stronger. There is always something to learn, even from the worst of times. As long as we have each other, what’s a little rain?