Friday, April 13, 2007

Shelter from the Storm

It's been a remarkable evening here in the DFW. The local news has fixed its attention for three days now on the "massive" storms that would reach Dallas this evening. All week I assumed this incessant coverage was just a result of slow news (I know, Anna Nicole Smith's baby's daddy was discerned . . .). After this evening, I realized they really weren't kidding.

The storm has moved very quickly--in and out of Fort Worth in a matter of minutes, leaving behind tennis ball, baseball and, apparently "teacup-sized" hail.

And Brad Remembers One Fateful May Evening . . .

As the reports came in, I had flashbacks to a May night in my grandmother's basement in Amarillo. Tornadoes approached town, and baseball-sized hail ravaged rooftops and car dealerships all over town. Meanwhile, safely in the basement, my then 8-year-old sister began wailing, "Why does today have to be today!?!" Megan comforted her while Dad and I fulfilled her one urgent request, "Brad (sob), would you (sob) please go get (sob) my blue bunny (prolonged wail)?" And how can you say "no" to that?

Dad and I rushed around the cul-de-sac, sprinted into the house, and, alas, I spotted the blue bunny. We returned to Mommer and Grandad's basement, and, to Em's disappointment, I had grabbed the wrong blue bunny. While this created a moment of distress, I think she simply appreciate the effort . . . either that or, at 8-years-old, she had already inherited that universal joy at seeing men jump through hoops on a lady's behalf . . . maybe a bit of both.

Anyway, we escaped that hail storm with a few broken skylights, and Megan had finally seen a real humdinger of a West Texas storm. My grandparents ended up with a broken window and an imperative to replace their shingles. Otherwise, we were unscathed, a fact I credit to the strange powers of my grandparents' basement to ward off danger.

Back to the Present

The storm raced this direction from Fort Worth. Sirens began wailing, and, simultaneously, the news began showing the destruction in a small burb north of Fort Worth. Quickly, I assessed my situation.

With Mommer and Grandad's basement roughly 398 miles to the north and west, I considered the structural integrity of our building . . . something I should have considered before leasing I suppose. Very quickly, I recalled our utter lack of faith in this structure. At night, Megan and I feel the building shake whenever anyone sets foot on the stairs. The walls are remarkably thin, and the windows shake with passing breezes. More importantly, we sit on the third floor . . . on a building supported by 12" diameter concrete stilts . . . and enjoy an entire wall of windows.

As I imagined our glorious windows with their stunning downtown views converting into massive machete-like projectiles, I realized that the central closet was my only hope. Sirens began wailing, and I prepared my shelter.

At this point, I realized that preparing a shelter was more a psychological boost than anything that would actually sustain my continued existence. For those minutes, I felt like I might be doing something to assist my survival . . . even if that something proved utterly futile.

The closet is crowded and something had to go, so I tossed my entire rack of pants on the floor of the bedroom. When the fury of Nature hit, I would have no need for pants, after all. Since Megan is safely in Chicago, I had a small temptation to make some extra space by tossing her shoes out of the shelter--then I realized that sacrificing her shoes might be an amateur new-husband mistake, so they stayed in. If I was going to live, these shoes, also, would live on.

The sirens continued wailing, and I quickly realized, as I listened to the massive drops of rain, that a hail stone the size of a teacup could pierce the ceiling and smash my skull (that May storm in Amarillo sent hailstones through the ceilings of several two-story houses). Ever the quick thinker, I located my bicycle helmet . . . just in case.

Then I realized that massive hailstones would also hurt my body, so I tossed some pillows and blankets into the shelter. And when we lost electricity, I'd need lighting, so the headlamp joined me, my blanket, my bike helmet, and Megan's footwear.

The sirens began again, the news reporters shouted for us to take shelter, and I dove into my hovel. Two minutes passed, and apparently the storm had already set its sights on Rockwall County. The sirens turned off, the wind died down, and I came out of hiding.

It turns out I am safe . . . and now I have all this stuff to pick-up. What a night.


Anonymous said...

What a story. If only you were back in Amarillo to experience the blizzard of snow that is covering our April flowers. Yes -- blizzard. Weather in the Texas Panhandle can be exciting.


Anonymous said...

If you had been in Amarillo tonight, you would have had the pleasure of witnessing the bizarre sight of a blizzard of snow covering our spring flowers.


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