It has been more than six weeks since April 27, 2011 when our area and many others were inundated with tornadoes. I have debated whether or not to blog about it. It affected so many people in our region alone and then it was followed by the horrible devastation in Joplin, MO prompting me to debate even longer.
I finally decided that I needed to write about it. Although it is not as positive a topic as I would like to voice in this blog, it made a impact on our family (albeit a very small one compared to others). However, what really prompted me to write about it was the number of people who talked after that day about how unprepared they were for any tornado or other disaster.
Although our experience is very, very uneventful comparably, I just happen to write a blog. This is the first blog post about our experiences April 27, 2011 and beyond.
I awoke to the weather radio alarm sounding and heard that we were under a severe thunderstorm warning. Looking out the window, I could see the dark clouds and the wind beginning to whip the trees. I went to wake my daughter.
The weather alarm sounded again. My phone rang. I proceeded to get my daughter up and dressed.
My phone rang again. This time I answered. My husband was calling to ask if I knew we were under a tornado warning. I said no, but we were ready and heading to my daughter’s closet. As I hung up, the county’s automated emergency service system called to let us know about the tornado warning.
I picked up the dog, a flashlight, and my cellphone as we walked to the closet. As I sat there with my daughter shaking from being so frightened, I realized I had no way of knowing if the threat had passed just as electricity went out. I failed to grab the portable TV or the radio.
About a half an hour later, I thought the wind had died down. I left my daughter in the closet and went to her bedroom window. I heard birds and saw the sky was much lighter. It took some coaxing, but I then managed to get my daughter and the dog out of the closet. (The dog was asleep, not scared).
I immediately began grabbing things like the portable TV, a battery-operated radio, extra batteries, and a lantern (for the closet). I remember hearing a local meteorologist saying the day before that the projections for bad weather that day were very high. Of course, I could not help but remember they predicted it would not start until afternoon…
My phone rang again. It was my husband saying that his work was sending everyone home. Followed closely by another call from emergency services to say the local school system was dismissing.
I decide to call my sister to tell her that what happened and to get her to look up the radar on the Internet. She told me there were definitely more storms on the way. The weather report said we only have a few hours and that the storms seem to be following a very similar path to the last ones.
My husband called once again to say he was having trouble getting home because of the trees down across the roads meant the main routes to our house were closed. He would have to take a longer way home, but he eventually made it.
Not long after he arrived home, our electricity was restored, much to our surprise.
We scrambled to plug everything in that could be charged…cell phones, TV, etc. We turn on all the televisions to watch the continuous coverage of the radars and to see the next line approaching us. We discovered that it was believe two tornadoes had touched down within a few miles of our house. (It would later be confirmed that there indeed had been two EF-1 tornadoes). Unfortunately, we would also learn that the first person had died as a result of the weather.
The weather alarm sounded. A severe thunderstorm warning was issued followed closely by another tornado warning. Round two had begun.