Sunday, June 8, 2008

Too Close for Comfort!, April 12, 2006

This past Saturday morning, this was one of hundreds of devistating scenes playing out just a couple of miles from my mother's home in Middle Tennessee. For the second time in less than a week the "Volunteer State" was blasted by severe thunderstorms and tornados. Being in California and far removed from the situation, I was able to monitor what was going on by watching satellite feeds from Fox News and local television stations from Nashville and Knoxville. By 10am, it became obvious that this was going to be no ordinary springtime storm in the south. As I continued my normal routine at work, I continued to keep one eye on what was happening back in Tennessee. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, the storms exploded into supercells and tornado warnings were being issued as fast as they could be generated. This was about to get real ugly real fast. Then about 1:30 I decided it was time to give my Mom a call.

Normally, when rough weather hits the area, I usually don't worry too much about my family. Having spent the first 20 years of my life there, we are all used to dealing with the spring storms. These days, it is no big deal most of the time. I just wait until the storm passes and then call to check in and make sure everybody and everything is ok. This time was different though. When storms were about an hour away from my Mom, I decided it was time to call. I told her that I had a bad feeling about "this one" and that it might be a good idea if she went to my aunts house where they have an underground basement. She was a little resistant at first, but then eventually agreed and we ended the conversation.

I continued to watch from California as the storms grew stronger and roared closer. Just before 3 o'clock, the first tornado warning was issued for my hometown. About a half hour later, a second warning was issued...and eventually a third. A little while later I decided to try and give her a call again. The first call was to my mother's home, but phone service was out. (In retrospect, that should've been a no brainer.) Usually when phone service is interupted, you either get a recording of some type saying that all lines are unavailable or a fast busy signal. Not this time though. This time, all there I got was dead silence. Needless to say, my heart rate picked up quite a bit. Then I called my aunt's home. Imagine my relief when my mother answered the phone.

During the course of our conversation, I saw a news report where a tornado had touched down a couple of streets over from her house. Even with everything that was going on, my mom was still able to see the irony of me being on the other side of the country and being able to get more information on what was going on than she was. I told her that "my being a news and internet junkie finally paid off."

In the end she and the rest of the finally made it through the storms ok. The house was a different story though. There was a little roof damage, a gas leak, some broken windows, and massively trashed landscaping. She also has a lot of debris around the house, in the trees, and on the lawn. In the back yard, there is a big chunk of someone else's house from a couple blocks away. So now there's a big mess to cleaned up and repairs to be made. Long after that's accomplished though, the memories will no doubt linger of the one that was too close for comfort.

(originally posted 4-12-06 on Yahoo 360)

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