Friday, May 7, 2010

Sitting out a tornado. Join me, anyone???

By Lonnie Cruse

It's mid-morning, hubby's gone to Paducah for the day, and I'm sitting out a tornado watch by myself. (And obviously I'm writing this ahead of my usual post date or I wouldn't be writing it at all because I might have to dash for cover any minute and might not get it posted on time.) A tornado watch is thankfully less severe than a warning. (A watch means a tornado is possible, a warning means a tornado has been spotted. Close by.) Still, it's not fun. I'm having to keep a children's cartoon program tuned in on my TV screen because it's the local station and I want instant updates. I'm prepped and ready to dash off to the neighbors' basement should the watch turn to a warning. Crossing my fingers that I won't have to, but the radar screen is pretty much orange and red. Sigh.

They predict high winds and hail. Not good for my car and there isn't a spot in the garage for it. Not good for the plants I just planted either. Knock-out roses and a climber. Not good for our house or garage or other outbuildings IF the weather gets really nasty.

We don't usually get the amount of severe damage you hear about in Oklahoma, which often makes the national news. I hope we don't this time. But we are in what is known as tornado alley, and we HAVE had some severe damage in this area in years past, including loss of life, very sad. Also including a car with a mom and her kids landing fairly high up in a tree (she lived in a trailer and was trying to get to safety.) Someone we know rescued them. Other folks we know rode that storm out in their bathtub and wound up landing just a few feet from their pond, (saved by a tree in the way) and their roof IN the pond. House gone. Totally.

Tornadoes do strange things like driving weak bendable bits of straw or hay straight into hard surfaces like trees and walls, something no human could ever accomplish. Like making an entire house disappear but leaving a china cabinet full of antique, expensive dishes sitting in the yard, untouched, with not a chip on a dish. So tornadoes aren't something we like to have around. Or earthquakes, but that's another story.

Different parts of our country have different problems. Like California with their earthquakes. Florida, with their hurricanes. If you are in an area that is not prone to any of these natural disasters, you are blessed. If you are in one of these areas, you've learned to adapt, right? You know what to do when a tornado threatens your area (flashlights, battery operated radio, and above all, a place of safety in a basement or local shelter! Or even an inner closet, away from windows and doors if all else fails.) You are hopefully prepared with food, water, fuel, flashlight, radio, etc, in case you are trapped in your home for a time by fallen trees or other damage that won't allow you to leave. And above all, you have books to read. Because you might be without power for a significant amount of time, should the power go out.

This is predicted to be one of the worst storm we've had in a while. I'm heading to the closet with a flashlight and a book. I wrote about this because (a) of course it's on my mind, and (b) if you live in an area where natural disasters DON'T strike with uncomfortable regularity, I thought you might like a glimpse of what it's like, waiting, watching the sky, hoping it goes north or south of us. Or you might not. Either way, hope you have a sunny, safe weekend!

(Hmmm, this would make a good plot for a mystery. I did write a tornado into a book a while back. Hasn't been published yet. Maybe it's time? Timely? Hmmm.) What IS your area like? Have you used your experiences in a book?


Sheila Connolly said...

My sister's town on the Ohio River was hit by a tornado a few years ago--luckily she lives far from the town center and avoided damage. This year it's flooding everywhere--we even had water in our basement, and we're on a slope with sandy soil.

In the Orchard series I threw in a summer hailstorm, which can be hard on fruit trees. Even if the fruit survives, it's often too damaged to sell. It does happen in Massachusetts--I've talked to local growers about it.

What a year for natural disasters!

Lonnie Cruse said...

Yeah, it's really scary the amount of natural disasters that have hit not only our country but the entire world in recent months! Thanks, Sheila

Sandra Parshall said...

Alice Blanchard wrote a mystery about a killer who used tornadoes as cover for murders. Of course, it took place in Tornado Alley, where twisters are common and storm-chasers study the dynamics of the wind. Not a very good mystery, and I spotted the killer the first time he came onstage. It could have been a much better book.