I was raised in a place where the only feared elements of nature were thunderstorms and hurricanes. Any other forces of mother nature scare me – volcanoes, earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis, tornadoes, floods, avalanches, etc. With that said, imagine me, the lady not fond of sudden change, waking up on Valentine’s Day and going about my morning routine like it’s business as usual. I was very excited since my second born and I had been up the night before making cards with candies for him to exchange with his classmates. My boys got dressed and left with my husband (who volunteered to drop them and give me a break). Great! I get to go back to bed, or so I thought. Just as I was about to take a snooze next to my infant daughter an alert came through to my phone – TORNADO WATCH. Perfect! Now what? I wanted to faint. My boys had just been dropped off at school and a tornado may be on its way.
Like I stated previously, I’m not used to having BOLOs put out for tornadoes. I am a “I have days before that hurricane hits” kind of lady. Now moving to Texas, although spontaneous, has afforded me numerous lessons on life, culture and perspective. However, having to watch my back because mother nature might send a tornado my way was not part of the plan. If I had taken the time to research this Lone Star State I may have stayed in the Sunshine State (who am I kidding, when God speaks I will listen).
I was in panic mode with many questions and very few answers. Should we get the kids from school without being asked to? Where should we hide? What should we keep close to us? The thoughts were endless in this over-sized head of mine. I was terrified – or so I thought. My husband, as chilled as can be, chimed in with, “It’s now a tornado warning baby!” At that point I thought, “This man thinks this is funny.” I couldn’t comprehend why he would play around with my emotions during the discovery of yet another fear (drowning tops the list – link to my post on that will be posted here – stay tuned). Of course I did not believe him and his “we need to take shelter” antics. Then, my alert sounded – ABC13 Houston sent me into distress and instantly made me feel like a hypertensive patient (high blood pressure runs in my family – thankfully I missed it – or did I?). My thoughts – JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL – a tornado was coming and I knew not what to do.
I prayed, silently, so my husband (who clearly was a bit too relaxed) and our babies wouldn’t deem me crazy for what I was about to do. I went into the “hers” master closet (after tossing storage bins so we could be cozy) with my infant daughter and toddler son, a diaper bag and my cell phone. My husband (oh how I love my better half), not the least bit concerned just stayed in the “his” closet (unofficial man cave) and shouted updates from the National Weather Service. He had no clue that we had already “sought shelter”. I sent a text to my oldest sister who lives nearby – no response. My thoughts – What are they doing? Are they in some underground shelter (now understood to be termed storm cellar – yes, I Googled it!)? How am I supposed to survive if she doesn’t respond with instructions?
Did I mention that I go from 0 to 100 real quick? I was severely panicked. I took to WhatsApp Messenger to contact my other two sisters. I started to text – address, county, hiding location and even this picture
you know, just in case. My heart was aching for my older boys. They were at school possibly about to experience their first tornado and I wasn’t there with them. Again…..my thoughts – Were they hiding as well? What procedures are in place at a time like this? Are they crying for me? I was confused and didn’t know what to do. Then a notification came from the district stating that due to the tornado warning everyone was asked to shelter in place. At first my brain was unable to process what that meant but I finally got it after reading it for the third time. It offered some level of relief knowing they too were doing something to stay safe, but I wanted my sons with me. We had been through so much as a family and I wanted to be there to protect them.
My oldest sister finally called (and had obviously been made aware of my current situation by the other two). She was overcome with laughter and told me where to go and what to carry in case I had to leave my apartment. Yes, I had thoughts (I think/overthink alottttttt) – How would I know when to leave? Wouldn’t that be like suicide to leave during the tornado? Where would I go – to her house, a hospital, a bunker of some sort? This was scary! I took my nice warm fleece blanket (I don’t know why but at the time it seemed like a necessity) and headed to my next hiding spot…my hallway, which is between mine and the kids’ bathrooms. Of course the babies were with me and I yelled for my husband to join us, which he did (we’re from the same place so this was new to him as well). So there we were, following instructions from a veteran Texan (20+ years under her belt) and hiding, waiting on this weather, this first tornado and what was to follow.
My sister stayed on the phone with me for a while (a long while) and was suggesting things that I should ensure was in my reach in the event I needed them. I decided to go and put all these items together and bring them to the hideout but then she laughed saying, “This storm is just about gone, you don’t need them now!” Seriously, the storm was gone. My thoughts- Did it damage anything outside? Wasn’t there supposed to be some sort of noise while it passed over us? Come to find out, our immediate area was spared (praises to the Heavenly Father). However, the tornado did touch down in towns such as Van Vleck, Stafford, Rosenburg, Wharton, Richmond, and Sweeny, TX (check out these videos uploaded to YouTube)
Although reports confirm that there were no fatalities, it could have been worse. I thank God for spared lives…material things can be replaced, but lives are irreplaceable.
Since my near heart attack over the unknown in regards to this particular tornado, I have done my research (again…thanks Google) and will ensure that my family members are not only well informed but also prepared for future storms that may decide to come our way. My darling sister suggested I download the app Weather Underground (which I immediately did) and use it to stay up to date on weather in my area. I came across an article on their site (https://www.wunderground.com/prepare/tornado) that explains the things I did not know before the storm. They also had a disaster supply kit (https://www.wunderground.com/prepare/disaster-supply-kit) that lists the essential items that you should have regardless of the type of storm you may be facing.
While we cannot prevent these naturally occurring storms, we can allow ourselves to be knowledgeable about the type of storms prevalent in our locations and prepare ourselves in the event we have to experience one.
Personally, I hope I never have to experience a tornado, but if I do, I am definitely an informed resident now.
(Featured Image courtesy -Wikimedia Commons/NOAA)