Monday, January 23, 2012

My Fright Night Starring Mother Nature


Nobody’s a fan of Mother Nature’s wrath, especially when it strikes in the middle of the night.  For the second time in my life, we had a tornado scare last night / early morning today, at around 1:30 a.m.

By around 7 in the evening, we had heard that severe weather conditions were going to hit Middle Tennessee.  I kept checking various weather sites and every single one of them  was consistent in saying that severe thunderstorms were sure to come late at night and that conditions were ripe for tornadoes to develop. 

I’ve never experienced a tornado in my entire life.  We did not have those in the Philippines, though severe storms, with strong rainfall, wind and flooding are no strangers to me.  The very first time I got a real scare from a tornado was last year when we were still in Illinois and though I sort of panicked when I heard the siren, I took comfort in the fact that we had a basement.  It somehow helped me feel a bit secure…somehow.  This time around though, there is no basement to run to.  Houses here in middle TN generally don’t have real basements.  What most people call their basement is actually a walk-out type so it’s not really underground.  We were told that it’s too expensive to dig underground given that much of TN is made of limestone bedrock (and some even say granite), hence we are left with a ‘panic closet’. 

And yes, it’s not even a room but a closet located in the middle of our house, under the staircase.  Even before we bought this house, we looked at the floor plan and made up our minds that this room would be our ‘tornado hideout’.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), with my husband being such a ‘techie’, the said room also became our ‘server room’ (computer server), further making the space cramped.  We realized at 1:45 am earlier today that 2 adults and one child can barely fit in there, especially since we had a huge down comforter and a couple of pillows with us to cover ourselves with should the need arise.

Our 'safe room' with its daily occupants...
I was the first one to get up.  I just couldn’t sleep, feeling so paranoid and constantly checking various websites for weather updates.  At first it was just a tornado watch.  Then our county was included in a tornado warning but it said ‘northwestern part’ so I stayed calm and thought maybe it won’t hit the eastern part.  I continued to stay awake and kept praying and praying and praying.  Then just when I was beginning to convince myself that the worst is over since it seemed so calm and quiet outside, I heard the siren.  I lifted my head from the pillow to listen more intently, still in denial and thinking that it was just an ambulance I was hearing.  Then I stood and walked towards the window to listen some more and tapped my husband in the process to confirm.  “Hey, wake up….Isn’t that the tornado siren??”  AJ sat up, listened, and then finally said, “Yup, that’s it”.  Quickly I grabbed the comforter and said, “We better go downstairs NOW…Go grab Noah…”, and we all headed quickly to the first floor.  I turned on the emergency LED lamp inside the closet/room and threw the comforter on the floor.  AJ put Noah down while I sat in the corner, while he walked to the adjoining family room to turn on the television and watch the news updates on the storm.  After about 15 minutes, we saw on the screen that the storm had passed and we were no longer in the red zone.  I was finally able to breathe normally and felt my whole being relax. 

Amidst all the fear and anxiety, there was one question that kept popping in my head.  “What exactly are you so afraid of?...being hurt?...damage to property?...dying?....losing your loved ones?”  After all is said and done, I realized that the thing I fear most is the last one.  It is the ‘damage’ I could be left with that would surely leave me most damaged…perhaps even irreparable. 

On the practical side of things, I also realized that there needs to be a second safe room in case there were more people in the house.  I am now thinking of the pantry as my best bet.  Let’s just hope falling canned goods don’t end up hurting anyone in the process!  I guess I need to organize that space now!

How about you?  What is your emergency plan in your home?  Have you been in a similar situation and have you any tips you want to share?