I am a born and bred mountain girl. Nothing in me is equipped to deal with tornadoes. Where I come from, we have the Snowbird Report, not tornado reports. I’ve been in central Alabama for more than eight years now and I can honestly say I will never get “used” to dealing with tornadoes. That said, last night was one of many nights I’ve had to “deal” with them. From small, random outbreaks my first few years here to being in the midst of the April 27th tornadoes, it never gets easier. More than once last night we took cover in our “safe place” – a storage closet under the stairs.
Leroy was a trooper and never left my side while the husband continued monitoring weather coverage until the last possible minute before joining us.
It was after 2am, when we finally felt that it was okay to relax a little – even though more were coming. Leroy and I camped out on a mattress on the living room floor while the calmer half of the situation (husband, obviously…I was fit to be tied) kept watching coverage in case we needed to take cover again. Leroy? He was done. D.O.N.E. Done.
He just could not be bothered to deal with it anymore.
Although I will never be tornado ready, I do have a few "tornado lessons learned" during my years in Central Alabama.
I love James Spann more and more every year. I cannot imagine weathering the storms without him. Seriously. I yell at any other meteorologist during times like this because I’m convinced they are WRONG. James Spann. Always and forever.
A tornado safety box is a must. Contents MUST include – helmet, decent shoes (no flip flips!...so please ignore the fact that I was, indeed, wearing flip flops last night), weather radio (or some sort of battery powered radio – take it from someone who knows: losing communication in the midst of a crucial moment is NOT comforting), and air horn. Always have an air horn. Just do it. Because James Spann says so. Also, don’t forget the snacks. Never underestimate the power of stress/comfort eating.
Respect the polygon. It’s important. So do it. (See also: Because James Spann said so.)
Tornado Pajamas. Get them. Have them. Wear them. You’ll thank me when a news reporter shoves a microphone in your face at the most vulnerable of moments. Or when you make a run for a neighbor’s house because you have no basement. Or when someone shows up at your house because safety in numbers. Trust me. Just have them. Update them every few years. Always keep the tornado pajamas fresh.
A very specific result of this tornado event: The “safe space” has now been added to the remodel list. If I’m going to have to hunker down in there, it’s going to need something other than popcorned walls and subfloor. Benches on the wall or something because I’m too old to be dragging myself up off a bare floor.
Though, to be serious, Internet, let’s keep people who were truly affected by this in our thoughts. No, it wasn’t as “bad” as April 27th. Yes, a lot of us are lucky. But some weren’t. And for those people, it *is* their April 27th. Local news stations had to take cover in their safe rooms. Fire departments were completely destroyed – when the people who protect you need protection, it’s a very scary, very helpless feeling.
Police departments sent out calls for help saying they “don’t know what [they] need, [they] just need help.” All of those scenarios happened last night within 10 miles of my own home. There are countless other stories and situations out there, all just as devastating as the previous.
(And for those making fun of Alabama during a time like this, SHAME ON YOU. These are people with families and lives that are being destroyed. SHAME ON YOU.)
I hope everyone remains safe tonight as round two makes it way through. Remember: James Spann. Helmet. Air Horn. Snacks. Tornado Pajamas. You've got this.