Our family was in the middle of watching I Am Legend on Wednesday evening when we heard our community tornado siren go off. We have heard this siren on many occasions. Each time was a trial run on the first Saturday of each month. This wasn’t Saturday. This was for real.
We stopped our movie and jumped to our local weather channel. All of our local stations said that conditions were perfect for a tornado, damaging/high winds, and hail up to 3″ across. The weatherman’s Doppler map showed that the perfect tornado conditions were on a path to our area of Austin. “Seek shelter. Move to the inner parts of your home. If you are in a trailer, leave it. Get away from windows.”
Our family has been through these warnings in the past. My husband and I have seen two tornadoes from our front lawn. One F5 tornado struck Jarrell, TX in 1997, killing 28 and injuring 17. We have seen walnut-sized hail land on our driveway. We have seen the sky turn a greenish color and the air become still and spooky. That is why our community put in a tornado siren. Just in case.
We kept an eye on the weather channels. We cleared out a hall closet and put in blankets, batteries, a radio, food, water, and misc. items. We were prepared to take the dogs and our family into a closet and ride out a storm. The tornado siren went off four times in one hour. That, in itself, was the most sobering thing for me. Hearing that alarm go off and screaming to the community: “Hold on to your hats. This could be a nasty one”, really got me.
Thankfully, the conditions changed and so did the course of the storm. It missed our suburb. We did notice the next day that several trees were knocked down in the next city over. That is where they also got baseball sized hail. Can you imagine having your car outside when those are falling from the sky? I can’t even imagine dodging chunks of ice that large.
As my in-laws are out of town this week, we went over to their house the next day to check on things. They live in the city where they got baseball sized hail. Their home was fine, however, their fence wasn’t. Their neighbor had a tree that broke in half and crashed into my in-laws yard and took down their fence. Thankfully, it didn’t hit their home. We dealt with the tree with a handy chainsaw and some muscles.
I thought that living with earthquakes was scary in California. Tornadoes are pretty interesting too. At least with an earthquake, you know where your stuff will be when it is done. They don’t whisk off your family or tear your house off of its foundation. I heard that the Jarrell tornado picked up a man’s wallet and it was found 45 miles away! Talk about force! Wow…..
I know that disasters happen all over the world. When you live through one, it humbles you. It makes you realize that all that matters is family and if everyone is okay. You can rebuild a home. You can replace a car or furniture. You can’t replace those you love.