Something irritating goes Beeeeeeeeppppppp! It is the middle of the night.
“Go away. I’m sleeping so good!” I say to myself, as my eyes slowly open just enough to see the clock shows ten minutes past midnight.
My wife’s phone and my phone are screaming a warning signal duet.
As my body reboots my brain, I begin to realize something is not right.
“Read the alert on your phone,” brain finally reasons with body, as I hear fierce winds outside our window.
The phone alert states we have a tornado warning in the area and to take cover immediately.
Sirens, sounding like wartime bomb alerts, scream warnings as I peek out the bedroom window to see my backyard trees bend and sway violently.
Now this is not my first rodeo with a tornado. I do not panic. I know exactly what to do when there is a tornado warning in the area. That’s right! I run directly outside and look up in the sky. Never mind the sirens. I’m a man and by golly I gotta look and assess the situation; just to make sure they know what they are talking about, right guys?
Of course, being the man of the house and the great protector, I tell my wife to go to our safe room, while I take another gander outside at the sky, sirens screaming warnings to take cover. Nothing is right about what I’m doing, especially since I’m in my bare skivvies, including no shoes. Even I will admit; this is not a pretty picture!
My mind wanders back to the 80’s when we lived in Edmond, Oklahoma, a suburb north of Oklahoma City. My young bride and I had just purchased our very first home. We had received a nice “promotion” to the heartlands.
As we settled into our beautiful new community where we had met so many other nice young professionals who had also been “promoted” to the heartlands, we noticed something unusual about the area.
No, it was not the people; they were fabulous. It wasn’t the city; the city was great.
What we noticed was the television. Yes, the television. No matter what time of day, it always had a weather warning in the lower left section of the television. It didn’t matter what channel; change it and you would see the same weather warning. When we moved away from tornado alley, we wondered what was wrong with our television. We realized we could finally see a full screen compared to seventy-five percent while viewing in Oklahoma City.
Now maybe it was just me, but the warnings always seemed to be in Pottawattamie county. Where the heck is this? This was in the early days of Doppler radar and they had set up shop to test this technology in Norman, Oklahoma.
Little did we know Channel 8 and Gary England had the best technology in the land. They could pinpoint a tornado down to the street and exact time it would arrive, long before it was available in other states.
During my young married days of Edmond, Oklahoma, my bride and I pulled the mattress off our bed, put it in the hall and crawled under it on news of an impending tornado more times than I want to remember.
We soon learned most tornados came out of the southwest. This is the reason most of our weather alerts began in Pottawatomie county, because it’s in southwest Oklahoma.
So, we made our safe room, where we had four interior walls and located away from the southwest, which would be on the north and east side of our house. We developed a routine, ensuring we had all necessary items to weather the storm, plus our most valuable assets that could not be replaced. We took these items to our safe room when a tornado warning was issued. Items like a flashlight, pictures of our memories, bibles, water, etc.
In 1987, a tornado hit our neighborhood. It demolished five homes just a few yards from our house. We were so fortunate that day. One of the destroyed homes was owned by a close friend. We saw first-hand how interior walls had a better chance of survival. I saw a roll of duct tape unraveled by the strength of the wind. How does that happen?
The tornado occurred around seven pm and by nine pm looters were already looking to profit from the unfortunate. They summoned the National Guard to this nice neighborhood. It disappointed me in my fellow man as I observed first hand, humanity in one of its lowest forms.
Ten years later, we found ourselves relocated back to the same city of Edmond. By now, we were much wiser about tornados. But with two kids on board, we made sure to teach them our key learnings about those dangerous twisters.
One can learn much about mankind in a tornado situation. We taught our kids anytime they heard siren warnings, which was frequent, to grab their valuables and head to our safe room. They always grabbed their most prized video games. My wife grabbed her jewelry, valuable pictures, bible, purse and flashlight. Me? I grabbed my shoes, shirt, wallet and car keys. I saw far too many people interviewed on television with no shoes or shirt, rubbing their head saying, “man that was a biggon! It hit us before we knew what was happenin.”
Fast forward to three weeks ago. Several tornadoes ripped through the Dallas Metroplex. I forgot everything I learned while living in tornado alley, as I gazed in amusement with little boy eyes, into the air, weather sirens blasting, trees bending, pool equipment flying.
Finally, I came to my senses. I make my bride hustle into our safe room. I joined her. I look at the things we have collected to save from the storm. These are supposed to be our most valuable assets. I laugh to myself.
She has her jewelry, purse, bibles and a flashlight. I have my shirt, shoes, wallet, and car keys.
The sirens stop. Our relieved eyes meet. We are safe once again.
After all these years of dodging tornadoes, I just realized I’ve been missing one very important point. Our absolute, very most precious asset, the one that can’t be replaced, is each other.
Thank you Lord!