I had a moment of panic this evening when I went down to the basement to get some chili from my freezer. It looked like something had happened…a burglar? Some sort of accident? There was a chair in the middle of the room, items toppled onto the floor, and the closet door had been flung open. Just for a moment, I wondered what in the world had happened!
Then I remembered. Two nights ago, while watching tv and looking idly at Facebook and Twitter, the tornado sirens started their alarming wail. I had kept an eye on the radar online, but hoped that since it was well past sundown, the approaching storms would lose some of their punch. No such luck.
The menacing line of storms had been approaching for a couple of hours. The watches and warnings streamed across the top of the television screen. Even though I really, really don’t like severe weather, I was caught off guard by the sudden noise of the sirens. I remember jumping up from my chair and heading quickly for the basement, grabbing my cell phone on the way. Apparently my freak-out level was pretty high, because I opened that closet door and chucked the items inside out into the room pretty quickly so I could get in and hunker down.
A review of my texts during this time reveals that my mother asked if I would like to chat on the phone and I replied NOT NOW I AM IN A TORNADO. I definitely am a big chicken when it comes to tornado sirens going off…especially in the night. (Wait…that’s not true. I freak out when they go off in the day as well.)
I sat in the closet for quite awhile, trying to get information from friends, my weather app, and Twitter. Once the all-clear sounded I went back upstairs and tried to calm down. Evidently I did not take time to clean up the panic mess that I made on my fast track to the safe spot in my house.
When the storm subsided, all was well. I was safe, and my friends in town were all safe, too. As the night wore on, however, reports of damage in other towns made it clear that the storms were as dangerous as had been feared. Homes and buildings were damaged, and in a few cases destroyed. A small town suffered enough damage to its school that they will need to relocate to hold classes. In just a few minutes, people’s lives were changed.
That’s why the sirens are so alarming, but so necessary. Every time I come back upstairs from my basement to my unharmed home I am grateful because I know how easily the story could be different. All across the state, people dashed to their basements or storm shelters that night. Those of us who emerged to resume our normal lives are called to support and help those whose lives were changed. We all know that not only could we be in those shoes, but that we are all in this together. It could be a rocky storm season this year…so I am going to leave the path to my storm closet clear and think carefully about how to support my neighbors who weren’t so lucky.