I usually don’t think about tornadoes or severe weather too much until it starts popping up on the local news, and then I always wish I had been preparing for what we all know are months in “tornado season”. Every spring it seems there are always a few showers or strips of bad weather that blow through and scare us to death. And sometimes some very severe ones come in, like what we’re looking at today. The same feelings come every time; a sinking in your heart because you know there is a possibility your life will have to be put on hold for a bit while you wait in anticipation to see if you’ll even get the chance to continue as normal, anticipation, preparation, calling everyone you love to make sure they know and have a plan, hoping it breaks up quickly, hoping it’s not as bad as they say, losing sleep to keep an eye on the weather in case something comes up in the night. There are precautions of course but what if the sirens break again or the radios don’t go off.. what if we never even have a chance? And I can’t deal with that possibility, so I stay up, to give us a chance.
And almost every time all of these feelings are also followed by relief that this time nothing happened, this time we didn’t have to seek shelter, this time we’re walking away with every member of the family and close friends still safe and sound. And it may sound strange to you, to hear about someone who is so concerned with what could turn out to be just a thunderstorm. But for us there is this very loud instinctual voice telling us to pay attention. And it’s because we almost died on April 27th, 2011.
That day we weren’t so concerned, we almost didn’t leave our mobile home to head to someones basement, we almost put on another movie instead of going into the safe rooms, we almost got distracted by talking and playing and enjoying each others company instead of paying attention to the weather.
I know that the events in 2011 were very rare and will most likely only happen once in 100 years. But that doesn’t mean severe weather won’t happen, perhaps not so widespread, severe weather, perhaps not as many tornadoes, but it will still happen.
The first thing I remember about that day was seeing my brother and dad pushing against the closet door with all of their strength, something was pushing back at them, trying to move the door. But what was it? Then there were leaves from the trees outside which was a room away from us. How did leaves get inside? I thought for a second. Then there was banging above us, lots of banging, and pressure.. our ears popped. Then the roof panels started wildly vibrating and the children screamed. How can we protect them all? I thought to myself. There were too many. We sat and held our breath, we waited, we prayed aloud and begged God to keep us safe. For what seemed like a very long time we waited to see if it would pass, I thought of where every member of my family was at that moment, how vulnerable they were, how incredibly unable we were to do anything to stop what was happening.
In a very short time that seemed like eternity the F-5 monster that glided over us had passed. We breathed and stood, we made sure everyone was okay, and then we stepped out of our closet. What we thought was going to be a few shattered windows and some fallen trees completely shocked us. There was a pile of rubble behind the house, and it didn’t take us long to realize that is was the house. We looked up the staircase and saw the stars.
The rest of the night was a blur of more fear and chaos, shock and surviving. We were fortunate that the rooms we were in did not fall apart like the rest of the house. Some others ( only miles from us ) were not so fortunate. And it could have just as easily been different for us. We were 30 seconds away, 2 feet away from the wind and the chaos.
I want to make sure you know that I never for a second thought that God was not with us. But that doesn’t mean the threat isn’t very real.
I also know that preparation may often be in vain. But in my mind, it’s not worth the risk. So from someone who has seen what these “super cells” can do in person, I’m asking you to please prepare well. Don’t pretend like nothing is going on because the sun is out, don’t act like it’s never going to effect you just because it never has, don’t think that the “safe” bubble you live in can’t be intruded upon. It can happen in an instant, and once it does, the first thing you look for is a safe place, a way to preserve lives and nothing else is as important anymore.
The local weather channels are doing their best to keep us all safe. LISTEN to what they say, if they tell you to go to a shelter then do it, even if you don’t think you need to. Be proactive about keeping your loved ones safe and sound. I am dreading what these storms will do to our state today, but if we are careful we can preserve more lives than we lose.
Here is some local news footage from that day in April. Just so you can see what it looked like.