He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. —Psalm 113:9

May 13, 2010

Emergency Storm Preparation FAIL

Matt woke me up from a sound sleep around 5 AM this morning, saying he thought there might be a tornado. I sat there, groggy, asking, should we get in the closet? Do I have time to get the cats?

I don't know, he told me as he fumbled with the weather radio. Why don't you just turn on the TV and check the weather, I asked. Because there's no power. As he said that it sunk through my sleep haze that the only light was coming from his flashlight.

On Monday night, the night six tornadoes swept through various parts of Oklahoma, we spent the scariest part of the storm cleaning out our hidey hole -- a.k.a. our bedroom closet -- and prepping it for just such an emergency. The bedroom walk-in is the only space in the house that's both big enough to hold both of us and our pets and has no exterior walls. Prior to Monday night, the floor was littered with shoes and clothes that had fallen on the floor, both of which I'd been too lazy to pick up. After tidying things up in there and clearing enough floor space for us to sit down, we stocked it with water, batteries and flashlights, and even a pack of playing cards and a Bible. We already kept a box of MREs in there, and added to that a baggy each of kibble for the pets.

By the time we finished, the storm had moved past and Tulsa was in the clear. Feeling sufficiently prepared for the next storm, we both went back to what we'd been doing before the storm hit. It didn't even occur to either of us to make sure the weather radio had good batteries -- which is why I ended up fumbling in the closet for them in the dark this morning while it sounded like a freight train was bearing down on our house.

Finally, Matt got the radio working, and a weather station told us that is was not a tornado, but "merely" straight-line winds up to 90 mph. Good thing, since if it had been an actual tornado we'd probably have been halfway to Oz by the time we got the radio turned on. At about the same time, the winds died down enough that we could hear the eerie sound of the storm sirens, which blew for another minute or so before going silent. Only then was I awake enough to realize how dumb we were not to just grab the cats and get in the closet and THEN mess with the radio -- which, incidentally, is now the Official Plan for Next Time.

It turns out that there were at least three tornadoes that touched down in the vicinity, and the National Weather Service is apparently still debating whether or not whatever it was that hit our neighborhood was, in fact, a low-grade tornado. Either way, there was a lot of damage. Thankfully, our power's back on, and we didn't have any property damage, which is more than a lot of people in the area can say. But our yard is littered with downed tree limbs, some of which are too big for us to remove by ourselves, and our patio furniture got knocked around. The chair you see sitting upright in the picture up above was lying upside down on top of the potted tomatoes and peppers when we found it. Matt was understandably upset, because he just potted that little garden two days ago, but I was just grateful that the chair didn't get flung through the glass door.

I'm so grateful that we're safe (as are all of our local family and friends) and we don't have any expensive damage to take care of that I shouldn't complain, but I will anyway: it's supposed to continue to rain and storm for a solid week, so who knows when I'm going to finally get a chance to clean up our war-torn-looking yard, something that's going to take all day once I finally get around to it. But I'll worry about that later. For now I'm just grateful, and hoping that the coming predicted storms won't be any worse than this one. And that we'll manage to be a little quicker about utilizing our carefully-prepared hidey hole next time.

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