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Posts Tagged ‘siren’

Even though I live in the Midwest, I have never seen a tornado in person. But I can’t even tell you how many times I have heard:
“Beep… beep… beep… This is not a test. The weather center in Pleasant Hill has issued a tornado warning. A tornado has been sighted… Please go to the lowest level and take shelter.”

To this day when I hear this, my heart starts pounding, I breathe faster, and I can feel my blood pressure in my ear drums. When I was younger, I would cry when I heard the interruption on the television. There was one spring when I was in middle school where the sirens screamed, the television went blank and the only thing my mom and I heard was, “This is not a test…”

My mom screamed, “Oh shit!”

“What do we do Mom?”

Of course I knew what to do in a normal situation, but we lived on the third floor of an apartment building. I had no idea where to go or what to do. There wasn’t a laundry facility close enough for us to run to and because the stairs were outdoors, there was no hallway either. So we went to the center of our apartment where there were no windows: the bathroom.

We each grabbed a cat and threw them in the bathroom. Then we looked out the windows, heard the sirens screaming, the computer voice on the television telling us to take cover, grabbed a blanket, some candles, and flew to the bathroom. We sat in the bathtub, candles lit, lights out (which we could have had the lights on, we had electricity still) each holding a cat and holding our breath. Our eyes were huge, mouths agape, the veins in our necks throbbing, with fear in our voices. Never had we been through such a weather predicament together before. We sat in the bath tub until our legs were numb and mom was itching for a cigarette.

“How do we know when we can come out? This is crazy! I can’t sit in here all night!” My mom said sternly.

“Mom!” I screamed as she got up, went in the living room and lit a cigarette. I envisioned her being sucked through the sliding glass door by a giant twister. I stayed in the tub a little longer, fretting about whether or not to follow her. The cats fretted about it too. Once I saw that my mom was not going to be sucked out the window by a twister, I left the confines of the bathroom. She was on the phone. Her boyfriend had called to check on us. The tornado had touched down one city over about 10 miles from us. We should be in the clear now.

Mom sucked on her cigarette while I continued to watch the weather coverage on the television.

This wasn’t the last time we weathered a storm. When my mom became ill and we were awaiting the official diagnosis from the doctors, another tornado warning came into our lives. This one lasted for over an hour. I was in the process of driving over to see my mom when the sirens started screaming. The computer voice interrupted my “favorite song” on the radio to tell me to take cover while I videoed with my phone churning clouds all around me on the way to my mom’s house. When I got there, my mom, her boyfriend, the two dogs, and my aunt from Texas were down stairs watching the weather coverage. The clouds churned and turned for over an hour producing tornados all around us. The sky looked angry and agitated. Once it was all over, I drove to my step-daughter’s school to check on her. She ran to me when she saw me. The poor thing had been in the frantic tornado position for over an hour. She looked weak and tired. I had the comfort of my mom throughout my tornado adventures; this poor girl had teachers and friends to comfort her, who apparently were just as scared. There’s nothing like a mother’s love to make you feel safe.

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