Yesterday was my cleaning day and I managed to get quite a bit done around the house. The lower level is "spic and span" as my Dad would say and I was happy to get it done so that I could concentrate on writing the rest of the week. But, let me tell you, it wasn't an easy day.
I work/write better when I have chores completed and that was my plan until I was interrupted by the County weather bulletin beeping loudly on my television. At first, I thought it was a test of the early broadcasting system, so I continued to dust the living room furniture. When I looked over at the TV, I saw maps with red, yellow, orange areas and realized that it was my area! I raced over with my rag in hand, I watched the words go across the lower part of the screen informing me that a tornado watch was in effect for my area. Well, now. That's a new one for me. I'd been in a hurricane before, but not a tornado.
I thought I'd certainly have time to vacuum the dining room, so I did just that. I was glad I'd had the Weather Channel on because the tornado watch quickly turned into a tornado warning, in effect until 10 pm. What the heck? I cleaned the television screen as I watched the maps pop up on the screen and then, I saw my town listed. Holy shit. I wrapped the vacuum cleaner cord around the machine and something told me to leash up my Pug. I looked around for my cat and didn't see him, so I called him and he appeared. Yes, my cat comes when I call him.
The severe thunderstorm with a high chance for tornadoes seemed to be following the path along Interstate 81 going north and within five or ten minutes, the loud beeping resumed and a voice said that if you live in this town, you should take cover NOW. The power of words. I heard NOW and I didn't move for a couple of seconds. I was dumbfounded. Was this really happening? Now? That town is very close to where I live! If the tornado was following the route they described, I had only minutes before it would hit. The weather people predicted the severe weather would veer off 81 N and head east, but try telling that to a tornado. Hey tornado, you're predicted to go east, so go east and leave us alone! Who the heck knows with tornadoes? They're as unpredictable as I was as a teen. Now, I had to think where I would be safest. My Pug stood at the front door, wondering when the hell we were going for our walk. I forgot he had his leash on!
The stone cellar of my 107-year old house is solid, but unfortunately, there are three sets of small windows, as well as hundreds of spider webs. I didn't really know what to do and I hate spiders, so I grabbed my cell phone, took the leash that had a very confused Pug at the other end (who is terrified of thunder and lightning) and looked around for my cat and saw him in the kitchen because he hated the loud noises that were coming from the television set. I realized that the area on the first floor of my house has nine windows and a kitchen door with a window, but the area near the door that leads to my basement is shielded by the dining room door that I could close and the refrigerator would block us. I dragged my Pug into the cubby, closed both doors and we sat in the dark. Where was my cat? I called out to him and saw him on the kitchen table (where he's not allowed, of course), looking at me.
I hadn't realized it had gotten so dark outside which added to my increasing anxiety. I texted my children and my sister to let them know that I was okay and to warn them that they should be on alert as the tornadoes (from what I could hear from the television in the other room, through a closed door) was heading east toward the DC area. Shoot! I knew my daughter was in class in Virginia and my son is in NYC working. Then, my sister called to ask if I was okay. I said we were, but that it was pretty scary. She was at home and said that she feared a tornado more than a hurricane and I had to agree as they are so unpredictable. I told her to keep in touch and I hung up.
The beeping continued and I realized I had a bad headache. Just then, I felt my cat near my feet and I picked him up. We three sat in the dark listening to the rain and the wind outside. I worried about all the objects on my patio that could be turned into projectiles. Great. Right through my windows or my neighbor's windows. I thought about the people of Oklahoma and any other place in the US that had been hit by a tornado. This was scary as hell. I worried about all the people on 81 in their cars who might not have anywhere safe to get to, much like the people of Oklahoma. Me who loves extreme weather and watching storm chaser stories had gotten a small dose of what it really feels like. Not good. I've always listened carefully to tornado survivor stories and marveled at what had saved them--a mattress over their bodies, a closet, the bathtub. There was nothing to put over my head where I was sitting and I wondered if I had a helmet anywhere! I laughed to myself at the absurd picture of me wearing a helmet, but hey. I sat petting my animals and realized that yes, petting an animal can calm you down.
I also wondered if I could clean behind the fridge as I sat there. Nothing like multi-tasking in a tornado warning! Instead, I sat still and checked FB to see if friends in my town had heard about the twister warning and sure enough, two had posted. I posted that I was okay and at home. I worried for my elderly neighbor and tried to call him, but he didn't answer. Great. I was glad I'd taken my high blood pressure meds that morning as my fear rose.
I had a gut feeling that I was going to be okay and tried to keep my imagination from running away from me with visuals of the Oklahoma tornadoes I'd seen. Ten minutes later, I ventured out of my cubby to the TV and sure enough, the warnings were now for areas along route 340 going toward Frederick, MD. It was going northeast toward Baltimore. I have friends all over that area and I prayed for them.
That evening, three tornadoes hit Maryland, sheesh. One to two hours from me. Trees damaged, garages and sheds obliterated, and flooded streets and houses in the DC area. This week, we have more severe weather coming our way. I'd better get writing today! Not only is it hurricane season, but we also have to worry about tornadoes now. The derecho that hit my town hard last year was the first one that local friends remember ever hitting our town, but there have been tornadoes before. I didn't know that...guess I DO have to have a tornado preparedness kit in place. Oy vey. After buying extra water, a better flashlight, batteries, extra dog and cat food, and canned food for me, I'm going to buy a pack of college-ruled notebooks, a bunch of pencils and an eraser or two so that I can continue to write while I ride out whatever chooses to come my way.
Happy calm Tuesday, I pray!
Peace and love,