Under something dirtyApril 17, 2011
You and I had one of our greatest adventures in the aftermath of a terribly scary day. You were three years old and at daycare when tornadoes tore through our area with vengeance, ripping countless huge oaks and pine trees from the ground and tossing them around like sticks. I was at my office watching the storm, but saw only a trash receptacle lid fly across the road. I was unaware of the drama occurring north of me. October 24, 2001 according to noaa.gov:
Ten tornadoes spun across the Northern Indiana National Weather Service office’s area of responsibility (or, “County Warning Area”, abbreviated “CWA”), ranging in strength from F0 to F3 on the Fujita Scale. This is the largest outbreak since April 3, 1974, when we encountered 16 tornadoes. The Palm Sunday Outbreak on April 11, 1965 gave us 10 tornadoes.
As I drove north to check on the house I learned that many of the streets had become impassable with trees lying across them. I continued turning on alternate roads, working my way north, until I was finally able to drive down our street. We were lucky. We lost an outbuilding and a couple of massive oaks were uprooted and lying in the yard, the power was out and there was no telling how long that would last, but the house was fine.
I walked around the house and spotted your mom, Laura, pulling into the drive. She was very upset and told me that she was unable to get to you at daycare. She wanted to hold you and see that you were okay (as Grandma Beanie always needs to do, your mom needed to look at you). As the roads were likely to remain impassable for a while, she and I headed back to my office building, where we had not lost power.
Laura was able to contact your daycare provider and was relieved to hear that everyone was fine, but without power. The daycare provider told your mom that all of the children had been in the basement before the tornadoes hit and were frightened after the power went out. They wanted to go upstairs but the daycare provider was a little worried about moving the children in the dark. Until you began to jump around. Your shoes had lights in the soles that lit up when you jumped. The other kids saw your shoes shining in the darkness and the general mood was considerably lightened. The daycare provider said, “Keep jumping!” and you all went upstairs, with the others following the light of your shoes.
Two days later you were scheduled to spend the weekend at my house but the power was still out, so you and I went to my office building. I told you we were refugees from the storm and we were going to have a great time. We played games, watched movies and ate cold chicken dipped in sweet chipotle sauce while sitting on my office floor, using an upside down cooler as our table. We went to our favorite restaurant for breakfast each morning. During our last morning at the restaurant that weekend, you told the waitress and me how much you loved to be a refugee (pronounced something like weffagee), and hoped all of the other people in the restaurant were having fun being weffagees, too.
Tornado warnings always put us on edge regardless of how many tornadoes we have seen or have affected us. I remember the tornadoes of 1974 and the reactions of adults with regard to the Palm Sunday tornadoes of 1965 mentioned above in the quote from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). The phone lines were down for days after the Palm Sunday tornadoes and relatives from Minnesota and Kentucky were frantic, trying to get in touch with our family. We were all fine and had not even seen any tornadoes.
The only tornado I have seen in person occurred when I was newly married and living in the country, south of town. I watched a tornado kicking up a mess of dirt and plant litter in nearby fields, and then saw the most amazing thing. The winds snatched the roof from a silo across the highway from our house and raised it high into the air. The silo roof spun around and then began to descend into the center of the highway where it almost landed, but not quite. The winds picked it up again and it soared over our house, finally landing in a bean field beyond our back yard. We lost a few fruit trees from the winds of that storm and the cinder block garage cracked and part of it moved (permanently) an inch or so.
The funniest memories can sometimes come from times of stress, such as during tornado warnings, and often involve something that came from the mouth of a child.
Kimberly was listening intently to a tornado warning on a weather radio when she was 9 years old, getting ready to help move Heather, Joe and Jenny to the basement if it was necessary. As we were collecting books, toys and favorite blankets and putting them near the cellar trap door she overhead a radio report that said to “get down and under something sturdy.” Confused, she asked, “Why do we need to get under something dirty?”
I explained to her that she had not heard the announcer correctly; he had said to get under something sturdy, not dirty.
None of us has ever been injured in a tornado and I hope that in the future, if any of us encounters a tornado we will be as safe as we can possibly be by remembering, perhaps with a tiny chuckle, to get under something dirty. Tornadoes Mouths of Babes Children Adventure