Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Tornado Encounter

This is the bigger shelter. It is a classroom built in the ground
Well after yesterday's blog I got to put into action my tornado preparedness. We had been warned by the forecast office that between 5-7pm very high risk for big tornados. Sure enough, about 4:30 there was one SE of us that was coming our way. We had plenty of time to take cover. We gathered up a few belongings, put the dog in the closet (I'm sorry but we couldn't take her into the shelter) and went to my office. We have two huge rooms that are designated storm shelters. They are supposed to hold 600-700 people. When we got to work, it was raining. Dan dropped us off at the front doors and we ran in. He parked the car. There were so many people there. The rooms were full. Like really really full. Like they were going to have to start putting people in bathrooms. They overflowed into the hallway. They put them in the security officer's special safe room. People came in wheelchairs. They brought their dogs and cats. I really think they should have told people they couldn't bring those in because if they weren't in there, they could have gotten more people in the rooms. It was warm and noisy. But I knew we were safe. I went to my office and got my laptop and walkie/talkie. There is no cellphone reception in the rooms since they are so surrounded by concrete. But we have wireless internet and I knew I could get on that. The local tv stations websites were so bogged down with viewers I couldn't get that working. But I could get on facebook. Always good. They were playing the news on the big screens. Finally someone shouted for everyone to be quiet. The news was talking about a tornado coming our way. When they mentioned the name of my building, the room was dead quiet. I also knew from the tones they were playing on the intercom that we were in the way because it was the sound for the forecast office to clear out.

And then it was over. The tornado fizzled out just west and south of us. The other tornado went north of us and fizzled out. Some people I know had a little bit of debris fall in their yard. But we had nothing. Dan went home first to check on the house and he called and everything was fine. Abby was happy to see him but didn't look traumatized from her closet stay. We called our mothers to tell them we were ok. Then I heard how the Weather Channel was saying we were evacuating the building. I had to think about that and they meant the forecast office.

I know people who were up in the observatory deck and saw the tornados. I've seen pictures from up there. Someday maybe I'll go see one. But I was quite happy and safe in the bunker.

The lesson to be learned is have a plan and do it. I know a lot of those people in the shelter probably won't come the next time. They came because of the big tornados over the last month. I hope that they do come back. I want all of us to be safe.

**The photo isn't mine. I was too busy trying to get on the internet to even think of taking a photo. Thanks to one of my co-workers for taking it. It doesn't do justice to the number of people in there.**

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