Friday, July 11, 2008

This is not a drill

It was remarkably quiet in our house last night. The girls were sleeping, and we were starting to relax from another hectic day. Then the tornado siren went off. If you've never heard it, it sounds like an emergency vehicle is parked in your house. It's that loud and intense.

I grew up with weekly tornado drills in school. The tornado siren still gets tested the first Tuesday of each month at 10:00 a.m. A few years ago they tested it at 10:20 a.m. and I panicked. It's just that basic to me.

Last night when it went off we looked at each other for a minute and then ran. My husband carried one of the girls from her bed to the basement. I carried the other. Along the way we threw shoes downstairs (so we wouldn't be barefoot if we had to climb out of the basement after the tornado) and my purse (so we would have the mobile phone and cash/credit cards). We also grabbed blankets in case we needed to shield ourselves from falling stuff.

Once down in the basement, we turned on the portable radio. And then we waited.

We could hear the storm above us. It was so loud that we could hear it over the radio and the girls. The brunette twin enjoyed the whole thing as a fun adventure. She stood at her magnetic board spelling words and laughing. The blond twin was less amused. She didn't sleep well on Wednesday night, so last night she was exhausted. She spent her time in the basement crying and asking when she could go back upstairs to her bed. I tried to get her to go back to sleep in my arms, but she kept saying, "We don't sleep in the basement." She was inconsolable.

About 30 minutes after we ran down the stairs, the news radio station said the worst of the storm had passed. We took the girls back up to bed and finished up the laundry. There wasn't a tornado by us, but there was plenty of bad weather in other places. This time we were lucky, and extremely grateful a tornado didn't develop.

1 comment:

Julie K said...

You must live quite near your tornado siren... that's actually good (it will wake you up in the middle of the night). We recently spent about an hour in our basement due to tornados, but it was just after dinner. A couple of years ago, I got our emergency preparedness checklist and supplies pulled together (we each have one of those giant ziploc bags with clothes, PJs, shoes & coats... I swap out clothes for my son when we change the clocks for season and size appropriate). We even have a camping toilet since we don't have a basement bathroom (though I'm thinking I should add newspaper to the supplies since we have 3 dogs).

Of course in college, I never had to get out of bed for a tornado siren (which happened periodically having gone to school in tornado alley). I chose a room in the basement of my sorority just for that reason (and it was warmer in the winter, and cooler in the summer). I remember the whole house of girls clambering down to the TV room (in the basement) in the middle of the night. I got up to see what the commotion was and went back to bed.