Ah, April! The time of spring flowers, mud puddles, baby birds...and severe weather. Yes, that is correct--it is tornado season again for America. Oh joy.
This A to Z blogging has coincided neatly with where my thoughts have been centered all day: the destruction of property and lives due to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Rain might be needed to make the vegetation grow, yet I wish with all my heart that the yang to the yin was not always dangerous lightening, high winds, hail, and spurred tornadoes. Living most of my days in the Deep South, you would think I would be used to this by now, but I think I shall never grow used to the devastation caused by uncontrollable severe weather.
Nestled in Tennessee I see quite a few tornadoes at this time of year. I recall quite clearly the year I was finishing finals at university. That fateful night there were tornadoes popping up quite literally all around the campus. I watched the news as the system approached...and then the station went out, as did the power to campus.
I would like to say that I handled myself with grace and pose, calmly helping other girls in my dorm down to the basement for safety. Alas, I have been gifted with a great phobia of thunderstorms, coupled with a sick fascination for them. I might be panicking, but I simply MUST SEE what the weather is doing outside. (I have never been one to fit neatly into one shell--instead I like to sample them all.) Off and on all night we were evacuated to the basement four times. Under stress, fatigue, and irritation, several of us girls posted notes to our doors stating that we understood the danger to staying in our room, but we wanted sleep so we released the school from responsibility if harm befell us. When we woke a few hours later, we discovered that the nearest town had had two F-2 tornadoes merge into an F-4 and wipe out the southern end of the city. At least 11 people were dead with several still missing. On campus, we had downed trees and saturated ground, but we were safe.
Yesterday I thought of the past as a tornado warning hit. My husband (smart man that he is) was taking a shower. I yanked the door open, screamed "Tornado warning!" (yes, I was very eloquent wasn't I?), grabbed our two year old, and pelted for the backdoor to get to our car (the house we are currently living in does not have a safe place to be during severe weather so we evacuated to a local church basement). Thankfully the system went south and around us, once again sparing major damage to the university and those who live in the area surrounding it.
When we were able to return to our home, I placed the television on the Weather Channel and have been watching footage of the destruction tornadoes and strong winds have left in their wake. I could not help but wonder if my friends living in the path of these storms are safe; if my parents were safe since the system hit their state hours after blowing through ours; if my relatives were safe... I also wonder if we mere humans will ever be able to develop a better early warning system that can allow people to take cover with more time to spare. Homes can be rebuilt, business can be re-established, but lives can never be replaced.
And so I decide to post this and pose a question to those reading: Were you affected by the storm systems in the South? And, are you all right? Be safe, dear readers, be safe...