Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Hang on, Dorothy!

Anyone paying attention to the news lately has seen the devastation and aftermath of an F-5 tornado that hit Joplin, MO on Sunday.  The city is about 2 & 1/2 hours south of Kansas City, and every news station in town has been broadcasting from Joplin, organizing donation efforts, even hosting on-air fundraisers and promoting blood drives. It now is the record-holder for most deadly tornado since they started keeping records.  The images and video have just been horrendous – people in a convenience store, convinced they were going to die, shouting prayers and love; storm chasers narrating what they saw, unable to keep the panic and terror out of their voices.

So when the skies darkened yesterday, and the light turned green, I had just thought to myself, “I probably should turn on the tv and see what’s going on,” and at that moment, the tornado sirens went off. I took the dogs and my phones down to the basement, and proceeded to have a bona fide panic attack, as reports came in of tornadoes being spotted and possibly touching down less than half a mile in two directions from our house. All of the systems were heading in our direction, and then on towards James’ school. I knew he was being calm, reassuring and ever-watchful (he’s got a vast understanding of weather); I, on the other hand, was crying and freaking out with a mattress pad cover over my head.

The dogs remained non-plussed. I got a little irritated with them for not taking the situation more seriously, though what that would look like in two laid-back black labs, I don’t know.  They just thought my tears were nice and salty and since I was sitting on the floor, I surely should be petting both of them, all of the time.

It turns out that the worst damage happened in Sedalia, MO – about 90 miles east of us. Fortunately there weren’t any fatalities, and homes and businesses can be rebuilt.  Certainly my own reaction wouldn’t have been so extreme had it not been precipitated by the Joplin events, but I recalled a time when we were living in Knoxville, Iowa; I was about 3 or 4, and a tornado was on the ground. We huddled together in the basement, and I remember my father leaving us to run upstairs to look outside, and I proceeded to have a meltdown of epic proportions, certain he was going to disappear into the swirling green darkness. (He didn’t, and we were all ok.)

I think I’m good with waiting another 40 years to feel that scared again.

If you want to help with the disaster relief efforts, donations are the best way to do that right now.


  1. Heidi

    What is it with dads and tornadoes? I have that same panic feeling thinking about my dad trying to go out and spot one.

  2. camelama

    OH OH OH. My Dad would do that too, when I was a kid! He was a HAM radio guy, and he’d go out to the backyard and listen to the tornado chasers. GAH!!!!!! Freaked me out as a kid. The rest of us would be down in the basement and I’d be sobbing – I didn’t want my daddy being sucked up by a tornado!

  3. jessi

    this is exactly how i react. every time. i once got in a stranger’s bathtub and put their couch cushions over me while they sat in their living room watching tv. true story. and it all goes back to the time my mother freaked out, yanked me out of bed during a tornado warning when i was like 5.


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