Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Disaster preparedness drills come of age


I started kindergarten after the big 1967 Oak Lawn tornado killed 33 people and injured 1,000+. The tornado was so devastating that television stations like the History Channel have aired documentaries about it.

Mom tells the story about how my Aunt Bonnie spent much of the day at our house crying. She thought her husband, Uncle Len, died in the tornado as their home was destroyed. He survived, but she didn’t know that for what must have seems like a lifetime. To this day she gets very edgy about storms.
Last night we knew there was a big storm coming. We were warned tornados were possible. Shortly after dinner I put my fully-charged phone in my purse, made sure my most valuable jewelry was in a purse pocket, double-checked that my wallet was there and hung my purse on the basement door.
The first storm wave passed by with damage, but not sirens. The second wave barely started when the tornado siren went off. Daddy and I were watching TV. I’m not sure we fully realized what happened when we heard the girls coming downstairs.
We threw shoes downstairs, grabbed my purse, dragged Holly downstairs and settled in the basement. We chatted about random things trying to keep the girls occupied. Holly shook with terror as she really, really doesn’t like the basement.
We started talking about tornadoes. The girls seemed skeptical that I could know so much about tornadoes. At one point I looked at the girls and said, “What do they teach you during your disaster drills?” They didn’t seem to know anything about tornado preparedness.
Later Daddy said, “You know they teach the active shooter drills. No one worries about tornadoes anymore.”
I just stopped and felt sad. He was absolutely right. When we were kids, our disaster drills focused on surviving the most recent disaster, which was a devastating tornado. For our girls, they go to school where the doors lock from the inside and teachers work with the police department to learn to keep kids safe during a shooting. They are growing up in a world where they are more likely to be the victim of a school shooting than have a tornado damage their school.
We learned to sit in the hall with our hands on our heads. They are learning to push their desks against the door, hid in barricaded locations, stay quiet and never open the classroom door. We’ve gone so far downhill from the time I was in school to the time they are in school. It makes me sad to think about what our grandchildren will learn when it comes time for their disaster preparedness drills.

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