The year was 2000, and I remember emerging from the “file room” where we worked, which was our “safe place” that at the time didn’t feel safe. Sprinkler heads vibrated in the ceiling and we watched ceiling tiles visibly get sucked upwards. When I emerged, a co-worker’s radio blared out a tornado warning for a town about twenty miles from my grandmother’s house where I grew up, so I called and told them to seek shelter, even if it meant sharing the crawl space with the spiders. They heeded my warning, and when they emerged, it was to find the fire station half a block away literally exploded, the mobile home next to it gone, and the bricks hitting my grandmother’s house. Luckily she sustained no injuries and the damage was fixed fairly easily. A few broken pieces of siding, some missing shingles, but I’ll never forgot the brick I picked up out of my grandma’s front yard and realizing how far it had flown in the storm.
It’s a few days past this weekend’s dangerous, and deadly, storms, and no doubt the cleanup is still ongoing. Insurance agents will be busy in hard-hit areas, and there will be the timing of payments as well as getting time off from work to make the repairs. The memories will fade with time, but they will never go away. And the next time the sirens wail, these people, like I, will remember one powerful, significant storm and its impact in their lives.
The actual storm doesn’t usually last very long, though days can become trying when round after round of severe weather rolls through. Like I told my grandma one day a few years later when we were in the hospital waiting for a relative to come through surgery and the weather warnings blared on the television, it’s not like she or I could stand in front of the tornado and go, “hey, take a left here, will you?” And if we had that power, would we really want to use it with the full knowledge we’d be sending that storm into someone else’s life. We were safe in a sturdy building. It was all we could ask for at the time.
I urge you to reach out to friends and loved ones in the affected areas and see if there’s anything you can do to help. If they are all right, and I sure hope they are, then see about donating to the Red Cross or other relief organizations. Make sure you have your own weather radio; no one is immune from bad weather. And send prayers and love to those affected. They will need our tender care and compassion for a long time to come.