Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hurricanes & Tornadoes, Part 2 of 2

By Bobbi

The children didn’t start crying until some of the adults seemed frightened. One man had been standing in front of a door looking out its small window watching the storm when a chunk of hail hit the glass. He ended up with a small gash above one eye.

We found out later the worst part of the storm struck at the opposite end of town. Have you ever heard the saying, “the calm before the storm”? Well, there is calm after a storm, too. As we walked outside later when we knew the tornado had passed, there was an eerie sort of quiet calm. The moon was bright in the night sky, stars were twinkling and the ground was littered with golf ball-sized hail. Dad grabbed the camera he always carried with him, brought some of those hailstones inside and took pictures of them in stark black and white.

We drove around the area for awhile the next day to see some of the damage left in the storm’s wake. I recall seeing one two-story, mud-spattered house that was still intact but curtains were billowing out empty spaces where there once had been glass.

Tales were told, such as the brick home not far from where we lived that had taken nearly four years to build. It was demolished in a matter of seconds. Cars had been blown over and rolled up in stretches of barbed wire fencing. We also heard about a baby getting sucked out of its parent’s arms as they raced for shelter. The little one was found later, some distance away, wrapped up in fencing like the car.

I have had many discussions with family and friends over which is worse to put up with, hurricanes or tornadoes. Why don’t you decide?

· Hurricanes:
- you know they’re coming and usually have days to prepare by stocking up on food & water or leave town before they hit;
- heaviest damage is often due to flooding in low-lying areas, not winds;
- if you know one is headed your way, you need to board or tape up windows to keep glass from shattering.

· Tornadoes:
- they move quickly and you don’t always know they’re coming, though most towns & cities usually affected by them have warning sirens;
- vehicles & buildings can get damaged by hail;
- as soon as you realize one is headed your way, you need to find shelter in a basement or the innermost room of your home, preferably on the first floor, such as a closet or bathroom;
- while you are looking for a safe place to hide from the storm, you must stay away from windows to avoid being injured by flying glass.

We never got hit by any of the hurricanes during 2004, I’m happy to report. Our area of the state did suffer a small amount of damage due to high winds such as tree limbs broken off, some power outages, and debris scattered over the streets. I can’t imagine what things would have been like had we suffered a direct hit.

I kept the newspaper clippings containing the stories written about Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. I also still have the articles about the events of September 11, 2001; not the whole paper, just the section with the headline screaming, “TERROR!” When you’ve lived during times of major disasters, whether natural or man-made, it changes you. It can take awhile to get over them.

Which do you prefer, hurricanes or tornadoes?

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