Friday’s Mississippi StormPosted: April 5, 2008
“Hey, are you okay? Did you have a tornado there?” I called my son when I learned there had been several bad storms in central Mississippi. He lives in Brandon.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I was in it, though. Right in the middle of it.”
“You were? Really?” I didn’t think there’d actually been a storm in his town, so close. But it appears there really were tornadoes and straight line winds.
“I had just left a client at the new Renaissance mall and saw the rotation above. Then something started banging my car, and I slammed on the brakes — didn’t know what it was. And all of a sudden, it was like someone opened the sky and golf-ball-sized hail started falling, beating down all around me. I happened to be next to an underground parking garage, so I whipped the car around and tried to pull in. Electricity was out so the arm wouldn’t open, but I was first in line so I was under cover. Everybody behind me who tried to do the same thing got pummeled. I saw a police car get all its windows bashed.”
“But you’re okay, and the car is okay?”
“Yeah, we’re fine. I actually saw the twister come down. I was in the spot where the storm started.”
I thought of when he was a little boy and we lived not too far from Jackson, and during tornado warnings, I’d put him and his little brother in our big cedar closet in the center of the house, then go watch the storm’s progress on TV. I’m not sure I ever got in there with them, but I do know that they spent many anxious moments in that dark closet. Except when the real deal hit — a tornado that hit Jackson and followed I-20 east, he was twenty miles away from me in a private school in an aluminum building as thin as a tin can just off the interstate. All I could do was pray and wait it out and once I figured it had passed the town, I called the police station and asked, “Is the academy still standing?” His little brother was in a neighborhood school two blocks away from me that locked down and kept the students until well after dismissal time. There’s nothing like feeling out of control.
So on this Friday afternoon, there I was in Tennessee, cleaning my desk off and not knowing my child in another state was in danger. Isn’t that the way it always is? As a mother, it seems like I should have been able to sense it or to feel some nagging within.
“I just went to Lowe’s to get tarps. The tornado ripped the roof off my office building. Rain is pouring in on the hardwood floor of the greeting area.”
“What about computers and equipment?”
“They’re okay…and we have an external hard drive with our data that I can take home. But we have a tin roof and the winds rolled it up like the peeling of a banana and took the plywood with it. The storm hit my apartment building, too. We’ve got roof damage and trees down…and there’s no electricity anywhere.”
“Are the dogs okay?” Bailey is a Maltese; Chase is a Papillon; Alex is a Shih Tzu who is very afraid of storms. They all usually get in the bathtub with their mommy for safety during tornado warnings.
“They’re fine. I went home to check on them.”
“So it hit your office and your home?”
“Yeah, and there are trees down everywhere. All the electric poles are down, too.”
He went on describing the scene. I smiled, knowing this is the “child” who loves to be in the middle of the action, in the middle of a crisis — family or otherwise. He’s always busy with his work, and I may not hear from him for a while, but if a crisis comes up, he’s all over it with ready advice and help. He’s had survival training and keeps emergency supplies on hand and has enough knowledge and intuition to know how to rig any fix for anything unexpected. He’s there, he’s dependable, he jumps to the forefront and takes over in any crisis, and he has since he was a child. It’s good to have people like that around. And once you know they are safe, it’s fun to watch them mobilize and interesting to hear them talk of it.