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My town regularly conducts tornado drills. I respond to them whenever I hear them as if it were the real thing. This either happens when Buddy is in school, or it doesn’t take very long and we all go about like nothing happened. Unfortunately, when the real thing hit, Buddy didn’t understand.
I heard the sirens go off the day after Christmas and frowned. This was an unusual time for them to conduct a test… unless it wasn’t one. My phone went off; the city sent out a mass text warning us about the incoming tornado. Well, darn.
I set the kids up with the a board game in the hallway, along with emergency supplies. Time passed and my phone buzzed again. I looked and saw that the tornado warning had been extended a bit longer. Buddy had been fidgeting this entire time; he had new toys to play with and this was going longer than usual. I tried to keep him occupied. It was getting louder outside. Buddy couldn’t take it anymore and bolted.
I chased him and brought him back, kicking and screaming. I tried to talk to him, I tried to explain that this was more than a thunderstorm. He wouldn’t have any of it. It became a fight, with me using every muscle I had in me to try to keep him in the hallway. I hate pinning him down, but as a mother, the image of what a tornado could do to him wouldn’t leave my mind. It didn’t help that the power went out, and Buddy is scared of the dark. The flashlight I had on hand didn’t interest or help him.
I happened to have a friend over that day. I’m so thankful; his apartment was destroyed by the tornado. He decided to go look, which did not help me convince Buddy that he shouldn’t leave the hallway. He came back with this picture.
That was the view from my front porch. The storm got louder; the tornado got closer. Buddy screamed loud enough to match them both, fighting to get away. My friend had to help me restrain him. It took everything I had not to cry. I couldn’t reach him.
My oldest son suddenly yelled, “OH MY GOSH IT’S A LIGHTSABER!!”
Well, that got our attention.
My son knew we had to keep lights in the hallway during a tornado. He couldn’t find his flashlight, so he had grabbed his lightsaber. Buddy blinked at it, and then asked if he could grab his light up toy. My friend ran and got it for us. The two boys kept things nice and light, ha ha.
The entire ordeal lasted two hours. When it quieted down and the power didn’t come back on, I loaded up the kids and went to look for some food. The intersection near me was blocked by police, which I thought was odd. I hadn’t noticed that the traffic lights weren’t there anymore.
I tried to circle around it, and that’s when I saw how close the tornado really came to hitting us. Homes, gone. Everyone standing outside in the cold. One home fine, another missing a roof. Cars with their windows blown out. A bedroom missing. All of this, right on my street. All of this, right on the other side of the intersection.
I had to drive 30min to find something to eat. It was four hours before I could go home. Every road in was blocked while they worked on clearing fallen power lines. Buddy slept through most of it, so it was a shock to him when we went to the library about a week later.
“Mama, why the house go boom?”
“A tornado broke the houses.”
“A tornado went boom the houses?”
“Yes, honey. A tornado broke the houses.”
Oh, there’s a fun question. How can I explain this? To be honest, try as I might, I ended up just saying that tornadoes were mean.
We were lucky. The path of the tornado was heading straight for us, and suddenly turned away and went up the street. My house has some minor damage to it; I’ll need a new screen door. My friend had to move in with us, the poor guy. He owns nothing anymore, except his car and the clothes he was wearing.
Now, I have a new issue. Every time it rains, Buddy worries a tornado is going to come “boom” his house.