Friday, March 2, 2012
You might have heard about the tornadoes in Indiana and Kentucky today. The T.V. weather people were telling us all morning that we were in the "high risk" area for severe weather. They told us we could expect high winds, hail, and possibly tornadoes. So I began preparing, taking supplies to the basement. I was trying to think of everything we might need if our house was destroyed or if we were stuck in the basement for a while.
I began with the essentials; a radio, a couple of flashlights, and battery powered lanterns. Then I put in extra batteries. I put my cell phone and charger in my purse, then put in keys to our cars so we could drive the cars if they survived. I packed a bag with foul weather clothing, water, energy bars, then I put in our passports and emergency money. I corralled my cats downstairs and took extra cat food.
I put all of this in a storage area of our finished basement. The storage area is the only part of the basement that doesn't have windows. My husband and I took blankets and pillows in there, too. I told him to get his bicycle helmet to protect his head. We were prepared! We have a T.V. in the basement and we watched while the weatherman tracked the storm toward us from the southwest. Tornadoes were touching down in Indiana to the west of us, and in Kentucky to the south of us. At this point we were under a "tornado watch" which means conditions are favorable for a tornado to form. Eventually we got the news that we were under a "tornado warning" which means a tornado has been spotted in our county. As soon as that news came through, the siren began to blow outside. That was our signal to get into the storage room.
We stayed in there for an hour or so, reading books by lantern light. We had the weather radio with us so we could hear what was happening outside. When we heard the "all clear" we came out and began to put all the extra supplies away. Then the power went out. We had a few more hours of light left, so I began to gather candles and matches to use when it got dark. We ate dinner by candlelight. I assembled sandwiches, canned fruit and warm drinks because I didn't want to open the refrigerator and let the cold out.
After dinner we debated whether to stay home or go to a movie or the library. Just as we decided to stay home, the lights came back on. So here I am, watching the T.V. as they report the damage and fatalities in communities not far from us. It took me back to 1974, when hundreds of tornadoes danced around in Ohio. That was the day that Xenia, Ohio was nearly wiped off the map. I was working at an insurance company near Cincinnati. Our department was working overtime and we were the only ones in the building. The building was one story, long and sprawling, like a big ranch house. There was a thunderstorm raging outside but we had no idea that tornadoes were coming. The sky cleared for a few minutes and suddenly I felt my ears pop. I knew the other people around me felt it too because I could see it on their faces. Two seconds later, a tornado hit the other end of the building. The noise was deafening. We heard glass breaking and could see everything in that end of the building flying around. It didn't touch us at all, though. It sounds unbelievable looking back on it, but that's exactly how it happened. Half of the building was destroyed; we were in the half that wasn't touched. Tornadoes are weird and scary.