Monday, May 23, 2011

Call of the Sirens

Current Husband always seems to know when to get the hell out of Dodge.

Growing up in Nebraska, I loved tornadoes.  My parents, being the responsible people they were in the mid-70's, would have people over, light candles and cigarettes, crack open the booze, and have a party.  We'd all stand outside, or right in front of the eight huge plate-glass windows in my house that looked over the lake, and watch the storm roll in.  Yay!  Fun!

I had Oldest Daughter in 1997, and my first tornado warning came when she was about three months old.  Instead of the rush of adrenaline I usually felt, I was shocked to feel abject terror.  "WHERE IS THE DIAPER BAG? WHERE IS THE BLANKET? WHERE IS THE CAR SEAT?  WHERE IS THE DOG?  WHERE IS OUR WILL?  WHERE IS THE BABY!?!?"  I sat huddled in the corner of our basement, surrounded by water bottles, flashlights, baby supplies, and the phone, lying over the top of the baby strapped in the car seat, praying to the Jesus of my youth.  CH?  He was at work.  He didn't even know there was a tornado warning.  No Yay.  No Fun.  I'm sure I probably yelled at him later, because clearly he should have driven home in a Tornado Warning so we could all die together.  I wasn't exactly lucid back then.

Fast forward to yesterday.  Current Husband has a trip to Chicago planned, so he leaves.  He calls around 4 p.m. to say that the weather is looking rough in our area, so keep an eye on The Weather Channel.  Okay, sure, Thanks Junior Meteorologist.  Sure enough, around 6 p.m. our tornado sirens go off.

In the past year or so, the Quad Cities has changed their warning system so that the sirens go off when there is a Thunderstorm Warning AND a Tornado Warning.  Let me tell you how Quad Citians have reacted to this change - they now ignore the siren.  When we moved here five or six years ago, if that siren went off, it not only blared, but there was a Hitler-like voice that yelled with it, no shit, that said something along the lines of, "This is a Tornado Warning.  Take shelter immediately!" AND YOU DID IT.  It might as well have yelled "SCHNELL!  SCHNELL!  ACHTUNG SIE BITTEN!" because you knew something wicked this way comes.  Now?  You hear the siren and think, "When I finish this chapter I'll get up and make sure it isn't a Tornado Warning."  It's the equivalent of crying wolf.  It's a Storm Warning System Fail.  The end.

BACK TO PRESENT DAY...actually, yesterday...
So I round up the kids, a comforter, my laptop, my purse, and the dog, and head downstairs.  Why my purse?  Because it has my cell phone, my cash, my ID, my credit and debit cards, my car keys, my reading glasses, Tums, Zyrtec, cough drops, Aleve, my Von Maur card...all of the things one needs in an emergency.  I get the kids and George the Superpet in what seems to be a safe room, and open my laptop so I can be a stormtracker on, but of course, pictures of Joplin, Missouri pop up on the screen, and my kids FREAK. OUT.  I explain that is not a picture of our weather here, and then try and talk them off the ledge.

I turn on our flashlight/weather radio, and the National Weather Service is announcing where the wall cloud/funnel has been spotted, and what do you know? THE TORNADO IS CALLING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE.  Or it might as well be.  Now I'm a little nervous.  CH starts literally phoning it in.  He is texting, "how are you guys?" and "hang in there" and "it's almost over", which in some ways is really sweet and in some ways I'm thinking, "If you are texting from Dick's Last Resort on Navy Pier with a bucket of Bud Light I will kill you."

George the Superpet finds this an appropriate time to start dog-farting, which quickly earns him a spot Outside of The Comforter.  I don't need a Dutch Oven from my dog in times of crisis.  Youngest Daughter decides this would be an appropriate time to develop restless leg syndrome, and The Son thinks maybe he should lie down and listen to Eminem on his iPod - "Lose yourself in the moment, you own it, you better never let it go...."  Oldest Daughter can't wait to bust out of the Panic Room, and she is rolling her eyes so much I wonder if she is having a seizure.  Nope.  Still just a teenager.  False alarm.

After 45 minutes of this Quality Time, the sirens stop and we emerge unscathed.  Youngest Daughter begs to sleep with me in CH's spot, and I acquiese, because it will be nice to have someone there, but at 2 a.m., after four hours of nonstop kicking, I cry uncle and move her to her bed.  I go to work this morning on under 5 hours of sleep, and had to do a cello lesson run and a baseball game tonight.  I was Really. Really. Tired.

How do they end up sideways?  This was taken at midnight,
so CH could see what he was missing.

At the baseball game, it's the top of the 6th and our team is losing, and the opposing team's coach has his undies in a bunch for some reason and is complaining to the umpire, and I take a look around.  It's a lovely spring night.  The park is green and there are beautiful tall trees all around us.  There are kids playing ball on three fields I can see, and I watch people walking their dogs to the nearby dog park. 

And then I think of the people in Joplin, Missouri, and my heart breaks.

Their night is nothing like mine.  Those horrible pictures of the neighborhoods and hospital all smashed, the trees all torn up and stripped of bark, the cars tossed all over and flattened, the death toll.  My husband texted that he loved us, and I am so grateful that we are okay and able to tell him we love him back in person when he returns.  We can bicker about petty calls in baseball, and drive back to our homes when the game is over and know where we will sleep tonight.  So I made a donation to The American Red Cross, who show up in domestic times of disaster, are able to mobilize quickly, get people in touch with their loved ones, and get them immediate shelter.  Here is information from their website, at

The Red Cross depends on financial donations to help in times of disaster. Those who want to help people affected by disasters like tornadoes, floods and wildfires, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. This gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS; people can also text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Texting the $10 donation was easy easy easy.  I should do it again and again until CH speeds back to wrest the phone from my charitable hand.  But he isn't here now, is he?  If everyone would just do that easy $10 text one time?  A big big difference, not just for good old Mizzou, but for the recent disasters across the South as well. 

Have a good week, Wifers, and in the words of Edward Cullen, "Be Safe".


Rhonda said...

My parents and your parents might have been friends, only we did that when Hurricanes were headed our way. I thought hurricane preparedness was making all the coolers were stocked with beer and having enough hotdogs for all the kids.

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