Thursday, September 15, 2011


I am deathly afraid of tornadoes. Don't ask me why, especially since I am not sure I would know one even if it were coming right at me. But as long as I can remember I have had an obsession about them.
When I was about 6, living in Monticello, Iowa, there was a night when we had three, one right after another. My sister and I had these cute little kids rocking chairs that we could sit in and watch t.v with our parents. Made us feel so special.
This particular night, though, the station kept getting interrupted with tornado information. So when they said there was a warning for our town, my parents got up and looked out the front window. Now before you say, how foolish, remember that parents don't always do the right thing 100% of the time. I was hysterical with fear. "Mommy, if there are tornadoes, we need to hide. Hurry, let's go to the basement." I said while tugging her away from the window. Kids, no matter what, don't interrupt your parents tornado watching. I kept screaming, and was showing obvious signs of being hysterical, so my mom slapped me in an effort to calm me down. Shocked me to silence is what it did.
My sister, age 3 1/2, was quietly and furiously rocking her little chair. "I'm not scared, Mommy. See!" and stood up. Her knees buckled from the fear she was trying to hold in. At about the same time, the town's tornado sirens went off, so the four of us trudged downstairs to the basement. We sat there for what seemed like a long time, listening to the muffled sirens, hearing the wind blow. While the basement was concrete (nothing like the root cellars some people had) it wasn't a very inviting place, especially when the lights went out. Suddenly the sirens stopped, the lights came back on, and the signal for the all clear was sounded (they had that in those days, too). We hadn't gotten halfway up the stairs, when the tornado warning siren went off again. Back down we go into the dark abyss, listening and waiting like before. All clear sounded again. So we trudged back up those wooden stairs. Then it happened again, before we could reach the door, the tornado siren blew one more time. The wind was harder this time, and we could hear the rain, tree branches, and maybe even debris from someone's house pelting ours. This time I wanted Mom to get my bird. "No can do." was her shaky reply. So we sat there, quite a bit longer this time, hearing the siren in the distance.
Suddenly, there was a loud crack. Instinctually we all looked up, expecting the house to lift off the foundations and to be sucked into the vortex that was obviously above our heads. Nothing. A few short minutes later, the all clear sounded again and we made it up the stairs this time.
Nothing was moved, nothing was changed. Paul and Mom went to investigate the outside of the house and try to figure out what the loud crack was. Debris lay all over the street and yard from tree limbs, but it wasn't bad.
The loud crack? The tornado had split a tree in our backyard, ten feet from the house into two pieces. That was the only damage for us that night. Through the grapevine we heard that some of our friends homes and farms on the other side of town had sustained damage and some streets were impassable, but our close call was just that. Close.

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