Monday, February 28, 2011

Awkward Moments: Tornados

The weather in my area has never been especially consistent. It's freezing out one day and then hot enough for short-sleeves the next, all the while the clouds may randomly drop some rain without a moment of notice and if things get really crazy it might turn into snow and hail. Lately we've been enjoying some near spring/summer days even though it's still February, which is the kind of inconsistency I can handle.  Being used to all of this, it wasn't much of a shock when we had to suffer through tornadoes last week, with more on the way as I type this. If we have some southern deity who controls the weather like Apollo does with the sun, he's completely drunk and the horse that pulls his chariot only has two legs and is hitched backwards. I'm a tornado vet having been through many over the years, proudly showing off my wounds from surviving each. All psychological. There have been some unsettling moments over the years, but nothing worse. This was the first time I expected to actually die in one. I hadn't been paying a bit of attention to the weather, assuming as always that ignorance against bad weather would be my shield should it strike at me. 
I was in the shower when it first began, otherwise I might have noticed that unsettling silence that always falls first.  When I stepped out of the shower, I heard the wind louder than I'd ever experienced, roaring and shaking my house like a train was passing right by.  I peered outside and I couldn't see more than a few inches out of the window.  It put me in mind of when I was a kid and I'd open my eyes underwater in a dirty lake and all I could see was brown-ish green.
I decided it was a good idea to evacuate to the lower level and hide out (manly-like) in the only 'safe' place I have, the bathroom.  About this time there was a huge crash and I thought something had hit my house.  Something thrown from the tornado or perhaps the twister itself. Immediately after, the power died with that slow, powering down sound like in horror movies.  I anticipated at any moment that zombies would break into my house.  Or raptors.  Or zombie-raptors.  Regardless, I braved the darkness and not recalling where my flashlight was, I used the soft, feeble glow of my phone to find my dog Buckley, scooped him up and then made my way downstairs to the bathroom.
The guest bathroom is a pretty small space, so it reminded me less of a safe spot and more of an upright coffin with a toilet.  Buckley was oddly calm if rather indignant that I had picked him up earlier, putting on a brave face and looking bored.  I had my pitiful excuse for a pillow perched atop my head, which is barely good enough to rest my head on at night, let alone protect me from falling debris.  We sat there huddled in this small cramped space, literally freezing my butt off on the cold tile floor, and all I could think was "I'm going to die in my boxer shorts, how humiliating" followed closely by "I hope the toilet water doesn't spill on me if the house gets hit." The rest of the time was spent trying to decide which friend I trusted enough with the knowledge that I had polka-dot boxers on to ask them to try and cover up my indignant corpse should the house flatten me.
Thankfully my worries were for nothing and then as quickly as the storm began it was over, as is always the way.  Like with the big flood last year, I was quite lucky.  My house sustained only minor damage.  My neighbor's car was crushed but somehow the fallen behemoth of a tree had managed to avoid all of the nearby houses.  The tree I must assume is what made the amazingly violent crash that shook my home earlier.  Down the road, another neighbor had her entire house demolished when a tree landed on it, leaving only one room intact, which happened to be the room she was hiding in.  I didn't ask if it was the bathroom or not. 

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