Monday, March 31, 2008

spring in Oklahoma

It's 9:30am on Monday morning and I just sat down after a whirlwind morning of showers, breakfasts, lunch packing and phone calls.

With five in the family, our morning is a carefully timed and executed routine. Hubby rises first around 5:00am for coffee and a bit of solitude. Our lovely daughter is up at 5:45am for her shower and middle son is off to walk the dogs and give all of the animals their breakfast. Meanwhile, hubby is in the exercise room on the treadmill or the bowflex doing his daily workout. I am awakened by the sounds of him shaving about 6:30am. I get up to prepare breakfasts and lunches. By 7:00am the three of them are out the door. The little guy gets up about 8:00am and walks out the door about 8:40am.

This morning, we all slept until 7:15am. Our power was out after the storms came through last night.

I'm a bit of a night owl. Last night while reading after everyone else had turned in, I heard the Emergency Broadcast System's familiar beep sound over a rerun of Medium. The message scrolling across the top of the screen indicated tornado watches for a couple of counties to the west. Being a lifelong Okie, I ignored it and continued reading while Patricia Arquette dreamed in the background. Two or three messages later, I was becoming quite annoyed and looked up to see a neighboring county added to the list. By now it was 11:30pm. I could hear the storm beginning to pick up outside, heavy rain pelting the glass and the brick on the north side of our home while the wind whistled and roared. Hubby got up for a bottle of water, saw the message scrolling across the screen, and went back to bed. I heard our television go on in the bedroom, so I turned off the living room lights and television and joined him. By midnight the first storm had passed and we went to sleep.

An hour and a half later, heavy hail woke us. We turned the television on just in time for the power to flicker off for a few minutes. Quickly, the television came back on. Another storm was approaching. Earlier it looked like this storm would miss us, but we were now directly in its path. When a funnel was sighted four miles south and three miles west of us, we dressed and gathered candles, flashlights and a radio. Just as we were leaving our room to wake the children, our power went out.

We woke the children and had them dress by the light of a flashlight or candle. Hubby insists on full dress, complete with socks and shoes. I'm sure he's right, but the optimist in me always wants to throw on a robe and slippers.

I lit a candle and walked to the kitchen for batteries. Every blessed radio in this house requires a 9 volt battery. I had a package of two left over from changing the smoke detectors' batteries when the time changed. Batteries went into three separate radios from three separate rooms in the house. Nothing. Nada. Not one of them would come on. We were in the dark with the children, the cats, and the dogs with no way to hear how close the wall cloud might be or if the storm had passed.

About 2:30am, the wind and rain died down, calming to a mere whisper. I walked onto the porch in the dark while hubby went into the garage to find some news on his car radio. The only signs of life in the entire neighborhood were disembodied, moving lights. Against the dark, hulking shadows of the homes, and the dark, cloudy sky, lights moved here and there as our neighbors ventured out to check the storm as well. The floating lights reminded me of an eerie legend from my childhood, the ghost lights of the town of Alluwe, which had been flooded during the creation of Oologah Lake.

I went inside and hubby met me in the hallway. The storm had passed and we could all go back to bed.

The boys had a bit of trouble settling down, and decided to sleep together in one room. We are well outside city limits, and with the power out in the neighborhood, the night was black. The air felt close with no fans circulating the air or creating the customary night noise. It was some time before I was able to fall asleep.

The electricity came back on this morning around 7:15am. We woke from heavy sleep, the kind of groggy awakening you have after spending a restless night. We sped through our morning routine and while the children waited for hubby to drive them to school, we turned on the news. We saw pictures of that intersection four miles south and three miles west. One house had no roof, another had the garage door rolled up like a blind. A mother with her children had escaped after hiding in the laundry room of their brick home while they watched the roof blow away. "It's just stuff. We're alive," she said, looking at a child no more than three, held in her arms. "That's all that matters."

We had no idea a tornado ever touched the ground.


Babaloo said...

Gosh, that was close! You were lucky. Lucky you didn't know what was going on. I would've freaked out. But then, this lady is right - it's just stuff. Main thing is that nobody came to harm. You can replace and fix stuff. Glad you got off so lightly! You better go and buy multi packs of batteries now...

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Crikey! It must be really hard at times like those. Full dress is always a good idea though! Glad you are all okay.

Crystal xx

laurie said...

when you're hiding from the storm, where do you go? there aren't many basements in oklahoma, right?

we go down the basement a couple of times a summer for bad weather--tornadoes, but also just high straight-line winds, which rip up trees and tear off roofs just as powerfully as any tornado.

i remember a few summers back, watching out the back window as the clouds got darker and darker, and the noise grew louder, and i thought, "wow, that train is loud," and then realized it wasn't a train, it was the wind.

and just as i turned to head down to the basement (where doug and the dogs already were), SMASH!!! a tree fell on our house.

it took riley an awfully long time to emerge from the basement after that.

Kim said...

It was very close, Babaloo. And I'm glad I didn't know it until afterwards. You're right, a dozen homes (at least) were damaged, but no one was injured or killed according to reports.

We hide in our laundry room, Laurie. It is in the center of the house with no windows. You're right, there aren't a lot of basements in Oklahoma, I think it's the clay soil. It's hard to keep them dry. Hubby wants to put a safe room in our garage floor. I'm all for it after last night. Our dogs were quiet through the whole thing, but they sleep near the laundry room, so they probably couldn't hear the storm for the most part.

It was par for the course, Crystal. Spring is full of days and nights filled with the threat of tornados. We have more tornado warnings today. I wasn't bothered much at all until I heard how close the funnel came to our neighborhood.

Beth said...

Whew. So glad you are all OK!

Manic Mother Of Five said...

I would be such a wimp in such circumstances...... Makes me feel weak at the knees thinking about it. You know how we Brits love to talk about the weather but I guess we make a big fuss about nothing much.

So glad you are all ok.

MMoF xxx

MJ Krech said...

Those same storm clouds are headed our way today,Kaycie. One system this morning, one this afternoon. I'm on hyper-alert now that I've heard how close you came. I hope you've gone to buy more batteries! I pray you are all safe this spring. We know there will be more of these pesky storms, don't we! Take care!

Fire Byrd said...

What great writing, really set the scene of calm with the normal routine then bang into the storm.
Sounds terrifying, so glad I only get to deal with good old British weather.
Glad you're all ok though.

thefoodsnob said...

Oh, my gosh! I had goosebumps.
Better safe than sorry, and you really lived that saying for sure last night.
I would just want bathrobes, too, but I guess THAT will be totally out of the question next time!


wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Good thing you're so well-prepared, but I guess you have to be. I'm glad the storm passed you over, but I bet you all feel tired today.

Pamela said...

I am terribly interested in those storms. I almost signed up for a storm chasing tour -- but they filled up fast and my vacation schedule wouldn't jibe.

I enjoyed your telling -- and am happy that it was only peoples stuff.

Randy and Kim said...

I do NOT miss the storms that would roll through in Ohio. I was 10 when the Xenia tornado went through, and while we were an hour north of there, I can still remember shingles and pieces of tar paper floating down on us from a clear blue sky. You could see the huge storm all along the southern horizon. We had no idea what was going on, until the news came on and told us. I'm glad you're safe and hope you get some rest tonight.

willowtree said...

There always seems to be beeping when Medium is on here too, oh wait that's just the beeps over my cussing becasue I didn't change channels quick enough.

I'm with Hubby on the whole getting dressed properly thing, the only thing worse than having your house blown away is to be left standing in the street barefooted and wearing nothing but dirty under. Hell even Bruce Willis learned his lesson in Die Hard I (although at the time it wasn't actually called I, it was just Die Hard).

I was in Ohio once when a tornado put a huge tree through the roof about 6 feet away from where I was sitting! Very scary.

ped crossing said...

Have you considered buying one of those crank flashlight/radios? We have one for power outages and they are great.

I'm glad I live where there really isn't any weather issues. Glad everyone is safe and sound.

laurie said...

wow, i just saw images of Edmond on the 9 p.m. news.


glad you were spared.

The Green Stone Woman said...

Lucky for all of you for coming out of it so well. Those sort of storms must be very scary stuff indeed. We have some like it here sometimes, but all the houses are built of bricks, although I know the roofs can still take a beating.

Glad to hear you are okay and happy to see a new posting by you. Thank you for stopping by my blog.

the rotten correspondent said...

I guess I've lived the day in a news void, but I'm going to look around to see what I can find.

That's so scary to go through. I thought we were going to get it today, but it passed pretty quickly. They're already warning for the next couple of days though. Whee.

I didn't mind it so much at our old house because we had a walk out basement and it was easy to get everyone to. Here we have a big trapdoor leading to a Silence of the Lambs basement that the dogs can't get to because of the way the stairs are set.

Freaks me out. I'm so glad you're all okay. Tired, but okay.

Kim said...

We are too, Beth. It was scary after we heard about the tornado touching down.

There is a certain nonchalance you develop about tornados when you grow up with them, MMOF. Which is all well and good, as long as you still maintain a healthy fear of what might happen.

There are always more, MJ. Some seasons are worse than others, and this one has started pretty early. The worst storms are usually in May. I hope that's not the case this year!

Thanks, Pixie. There's a saying about the weather here: if you don't like the weather, wait a minute. At least it's never boring!

I think we'll be getting fully dressed from now on, Lisa. The truth is, tornados are unpredictable, and you just never know . . .

I was tired today, Coffee, with one of those I-didn't-sleep-enough headaches. We do have to stay fairly well prepared in the spring. I am thinking of getting a weather radio with a rechargeable battery. I can't figure out why the radios wouldn't work. The batteries were good. I'm sure it was operator error. We'll blame it on the dark.

I remember that about you, Pamela, from something you posted (for a Fun Monday, I think). Believe me, there is nothing exciting about tornados. They are just destructive whorls of wind that leave havoc in their wake. I've seen the aftermath too many times to want to follow them on their journey.

Thanks, Randy and Kim. I'm turning in as soon as I finish this comment. I think I'll sleep well.

Hey, WT, don't diss my show! I guess I'll let you slide since you made the Bruce reference, though. He's my fav. I stood in one of Daddy's pastures and watched a tornado rip through the fence line under a clear, blue sky. It was more fascinating than scary. A tree through the roof, that would scare me.

I'm thinking I'll get a weather radio, Ped, with a rechargeable battery. Hubby wants a generator, the kind you hook to your gas supply. It acts as a back up any time your power goes out. It's a great idea, but they're about 3 or 4 grand. Of course he wants that. It's a cool toy the other boys wouldn't have.

I looked for a picture to post, Laurie, but couldn't find one. The pictures I saw this morning were pretty bad, but I think fewer than 20 houses were damaged and the power was restored quickly. I've seen it so much worse.

Irene, the tornados here get so strong that it doesn't much matter what the houses are made of. Tornados here have been known to pick up an entire house and deposit it miles away.

I think I have been as scared as I've ever been when I lived in Kansas during tornado season. The winds just seemed stronger to me there. Thank the good Lord we had a full basement. I would never have left the bathroom otherwise.

Cait O'Connor said...

I'm glad that you and your family are safe, that must have been a frightening experience. I was in two hurricanes in the 80's in the UK and that was scary. Never experienced a tornado though.

Carolyn said...

My heart is in my throat. Great post. Great writing.

As I read, I was so scared for you. Illogical I know - seeing as how you wrote this post and must be okay.

I truly hope you and your community recover from the scare and the damage! Best wishes...

Aoj and The Lurchers said...

We just don't experience such extremes of weather over here in the UK, althougn I know it's common-place for some of you guys.

I'm glad you're all OK.

aminah said...

i am soo glad to hear you are all well. That sounds so frightening but hubby and you were calm and tooks things to hand...

loved reading this

-Ann said...

Yikes. That's really scary.

I love that getting fully dressed is part of your storm routine. That never would have occurred to me!

Carolyn said...

Hope you had a nice weekend. There's an award over at my place for you...

elizabethm said...

How terrifying, especially with children with you. So glad you are ok. Fantastically written too! Here's hoping for some calm now.

Faye said...

Here it is just a little over a week later from your adventure and I saw on the weather reports that more bad weather is circulating around OK City and thought of you. Hope it didn't hit you this time--how far do you live from OC?

Takes a lot to send me to the basement, especially if fav show is on, but I do agree with Hubby about getting dressed. Never want to be one of those wild-haired women in my pjs being interviewed on TV--shallow. I always fear that Willie will bolt in a storm so I leash him up, the better to grab if we have to run.

Wishing you a calm end of the week.