Take Shelter Now
Drop everything! Run!
A lot can be said both positively and negatively about the ubiquity of the smartphone, but on Monday May 23, 2022, I got a reminder of why having a mechanism for receiving news of danger hurtling down upon me is a good thing. On that day, as if by the whim of the gods . . .
"BRRACK! BRRACK! BRRACK!" screamed my phone from the other room. I just about shit my pants.
I retrieved my father's phone after his death in January. I forgot that I had switched it on that day. My father has passed, but his phone lives on.
"BRRACK! BRRACK! BRRACK!" My father's phone joined the cacophonous wail. I just about shit my pants again.
I ran to my phone and looked: GAH! Tornado!
I looked outside: calm, sunny, a few clouds.
I looked at my phone again: "FIND SHELTER! NOW NOW NOW!" (I paraphrase; see image.)
Yowza! And then I did what everyone does. I googled 'Tornado warning versus tornado watch' — Yup, a warning means a tornado was spotted or indicated by weather radar. I.e., a tornado exists somewhere and it could be coming my way.
These emergency alerts are like being dowsed in cold water. Monica was running around showing houses (real estate agent), so I was alone. We have dogs, livestock, random things outside on the farm, and more. I was only in my bathrobe. I leapt into action.
- Put the dogs outside to pee. Pee myself! Both dogs are 50,000 years old. One needs a ramp to get to the yard, and both can sometimes take a long time to finish.
- Plugged in the cell phone while I prepared.
- Tossed a cup of cold coffee in the microwave and hit one minute. Because, you know . . . addiction.
- Grabbed a flashlight & a knife
- A set of clothes, hat, jacket, shoes
- Thought about running to the truck and getting the crowbar that's in there, but I didn't.
- Looked outside: sheep were fine, chickens would just have to deal, and the beehives would either be toppled or not. The rest of the random things in the yard were already secured for the most part.
I set up a chair in our laundry room with a dog bed and a water bowl. It started to sprinkle as I coaxed the ancient pups back into the house.
And then, just like that, the weather turned.
BOOM! WHOOSH! ROAR!
Lightning cracked and a torrential downpour set in.
One dog (Lady), loves listening to the rain on our metal roof—as we all do, right?—but the other, Brutus, is terrified of lightning and thunder. Lady found a spot and laid down, Brutus paced all over panting. The cat made himself inconvenient by weaving in and out of my feet. He knew something was up.
I got Lady up again and corralled both dogs into the laundry room right when the power went out. The cat dove in and hid behind the washer. I sprinted to the kitchen, grabbed my coffee, and filled a bottle with water. I picked up the phone, a book, and a battery-powered book light in passing.
Computers! As the rain raged outside, I ran and snagged both of our computer laptops and pulled cords out of the walls. I unplugged the one entertainment center we have as well (TV + stuff).
I double-checked that the fire safe was closed and locked. And then I grabbed my various notebooks with all my likely never to be finished novels, short stories, and poetry. Cat, dogs, books, computers, and deep thoughts all huddled together in the laundry room. In retrospect, I should have put the notebooks in the fire safe. Alas.
And then we waited. I browsed the web a bit. I read. The dogs calmed down.
After a time, the storm calmed down. The cat came out of hiding. And then we came out of hiding.
No tornado hit us (turned out it was an EF-0 tornado in Durham), but the storm winds themselves were rather furious. I took a quick inventory:
- A fence went down and most of the sheep were in another pasture. Sheep more or less ignore the weather. They just want the best food available. The storm provided that. Grr.
- The chickens were huddled but fine.
- A very large tree limb came down and squashed a segment of electric fencing. I shut down that leg of the current and added that cleanup to my to-do list.
Oh! Monica. Well, I knew she was fine, but I called anyway.
Monica and her client hid in one of the houses Monica was showing. Fun! To them, it was an adventure, but then it got rather boring huddling in a house empty of furniture.
The power kicked back on after about an hour. It reminded me that we had to seriously consider purchasing a generator. If an outage extended for over a day or two, we would potentially lose six freezers full of lamb.
Looking back, I think I reacted fairly well. It sounds like a lot of moving parts, but all that prep took maybe only ten minutes, fifteen tops. I keep putting off establishing a bugout bag. I probably should put one together, eventually. Looking around our home, though, I am reminded that this house has stood for 150+ years. I suspect it will stand for a bit longer.