Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The most exciting tornado warning happened in the middle of the night. All six of us kids were roused from our beds and sent to the basement with pillows and blankets. Any time you get to party in the middle of the night in your pj's is fun. We sat huddled around the radio, flashlights at the ready. Every once in a while our dad would go upstairs to check on the action and report back with things like "I think I just saw John's carport roof fly by." After the all-clear the party would continue in the kitchen with hot chocolate and then at first light we saw that, sure enough, John's carport roof was lying in Harold's backyard. That may have been the storm that took off the roof of the St. Louis Blues ice arena and leveled a part of downtown that subsequently became the housing complex Laclede Town (where I lived after my divorce) that subsequently got torn down because of man-made disasters like crime.
As a grown-up tornadoes kind of lost the fun factor. Especially when I lived in a mobile home - Bull's Eye! - with a three-month-old baby. Where do you go when the sirens sound? The bathtub? I think that only works in real homes. The ditch on the edge of the mobile home park? Well, okay, but when do you grab the baby and head for the ditch? I stood at the door, watched the sky turn green, watched the trees come to a standstill...nothing. Whew. False alarm.
The scariest tornado I encountered was on I-70 driving to Kansas City to see my college friend Space Woman. I had the radio on as I drove through a downpour so heavy I couldn't see the road in front of me. Whatever town I was nearing was being pummeled by a tornado. At the next exit I pulled off the highway and went inside the Ramada Inn. In the hotel bar I stood at the picture window with all the other travelers watching the rain, the hail, the wind. (I'm sure we would've moved away from all that glass at some point.)
After the recent tornadoes in the south and now this one in Joplin, Missouri (not too far from where I went to college in Springfield) the fun factor is totally gone. Did you see that Weather Channel weatherman get choked up as he first surveyed the damaged town? I got choked up watching him. The images on TV and the internet are those out of some Hollywood disaster movie. To emerge from the basement and see a displaced carport roof is one thing. To emerge from the basement and see nothing...yep, tornado fun is gone.
[image from CBS news]