No Harm Done

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dorothy? Get in the Storm Cellar!

We've had storm after storm over the past two weeks, and between staying up until 1:00 am watching for weather updates and getting up at 5:45 am to make the morning swim practices, I'm wiped out..

Wednesday night was the longest. Tornadoes touched down in a nearby college town, and slowly moved our way. At midnight I dragged the boys downstairs as the tornado sirens wailed. The funnel was heading directly toward us, (watching the radar was alarming!!) but thankfully ended up veering to the north a few miles before it reached us. It made for a long, stressful, sleepless night.

Thursday another storm system moved in. It wasn't supposed to be bad until after dark, so about 5:00 the boys and I ran to WalMart to get a few things.

Yes, there were scary clouds but, the weathermen weren't predicting any severe weather until much later that night. Yes, it was raining heavily, but there was no lightning. Any Kansan will tell you that all outdoor activities -ball games, parades, swim practice -proceed as scheduled, unless there is lightning nearby. So our shopping trip went on as scheduled.

Remember that book from several years ago about an young, unmarried, pregnant girl who lives in a WalMart? "Where The Heart Is" was an Oprah book club pick and eventually a movie was this ringing any bells? Anyway, that girl living inside a WalMart? Well, that was almost me.

Well, not the pregnant part.

And not the unmarried part.

And not even the young part....

But the living in WalMart part- THAT was almost me. And the boys. The boys would've been living there too.

We were in WalMart when the tornado sirens went off.

WalMart workers in the front of the store directed all of us to the back. When our crowd got to the back of the store, the workers there told us we had to go to the middle of the store. We kind of milled around there, listening to the wailing siren, while the store workers tried to figure out where we were supposed to be. Listening to them argue about the safety protocol did not inspire confidence.

Eventually, they decided that we needed to be in the layaway area in the back of the store. We squeezed in (I was thankful that they didn't send us into the bathrooms), wondering what was going on outside the store. We only knew that the sirens were sounding. Employees locked the store down and no one was going to be allowed to leave until the tornado warning was lifted.

At first, it was kind of funny watching 20-30 shoppers pull out their cell phones to call people on the outside. We dialed and listened. Then we hung up, dialed, and listened some more. Most calls weren't going through, and when a call did go through, the receivers didn't pick up because they were taking cover in their basements like sensible people.

To fill the time, Brogan found a safe hiding place under the layaway counter. He sat there, chatting with a man (also under the counter) about thunderstorms, while Colson worried out loud about the fact that Brogan was talking to a stranger. I strained to listen to the tvs in the electronics department, trying to hear updates about the funnel cloud touching down on the south side of town. Braden, ever practical, was planning what we would eat and drink, and where we could sleep if we needed to be in the store overnight. WalMart has pretty much everything we'd need!

I got to know several of the people standing around us, as we chatted trying to lift the tension created by being herded into a room with many strangers and blaring sirens. The boys did a great job of being calm, despite the uncertainty of the situation. Me, possessing a somewhat snarky personality, I took note of the fact that if I ever need some self-esteem boosting, I need only drive as far as the local WalMart. After spending time observing people there, you'll feel so much better about your weight, your clothes, your hair, your parenting skills ....whatever issue is plaguing you at the moment will be an issue no longer after you've left the store.

Periodically the sirens would stop, and we'd leave the shelter area, only to return when the sirens blared again 5 minutes later. After spending nearly an hour and a half in the store, much of it spent listening to sirens, the lockdown was lifted and we were able to leave.

It was an interesting experience, and kind of fun, actually, once we were outside the store again. But next time we get stuck inside a store during a tornado warning, I want it to be someplace more pleasant: Barnes and Noble........ maybe a furniture store so we can at least sit down...... Baskin-Robbins......

Hmm.. I think I'll have to plan my next lockdown in advance.

In what store would you want to be trapped?


At 9:07 AM , OpenID delightunderstanding said...

How's about the Mall (yes, our mall!)? We were eating dinner at the Chinese buffet when the sirens went off, and got herded into the storm shelter with about 100 of our closest friends. N brought along an egg roll, just in case the restaurant was wiped out and we wouldn't get dinner; we told him he'd have to share it with everyone in the shelter so he wolfed it down real quick!

Hope the move goes well! You're all in our prayers.

Scott L.

At 3:23 PM , Blogger Darin said...

And that is PRECISELY why I live in Phoenix.

The only thing we have here are Severe Heat Advisories. GET THEE TO THE POOLS!

I don't know how you live there.


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