Living in Tornado Alley
Long time readers of this blog may know that I like to refer to where I live as the heartland. We’ve been getting more attention lately being known as tornado alley. Although tornado alley is primarily a media driven term, it encompasses the peak in tornado activity in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. It has a nice ring to it, don’t ya think?
After decades of living in tornado alley, we’ve got weather safety down to a science. In case you didn’t know, meteorology (weather) is a science. The meteorologists in this region are no dummies. They’ve been on national television and had bit parts in blockbuster movies. During severe storms, television shows are pre-empted, and the tv meteorologists will stay on for hours upon hours. In fact, as the broadcasts go on and on, people have wondered whether these professionals are wearing adult diapers. They never seem to leave the screen or quit talking. Truth or urban legend? Hmmmm?
The technology for predicting storms and showing their locations is nothing short of amazing. The digital maps landmark organizations or buildings every several miles so that viewers can find a point of reference. Looking at a map that shows how much a storm covers street by street can go a long way in calming people and making sure they are prepared.
As a family, we have to do our part to be prepared too. Our current home has an underground storm cellar with access through the garage. It is equipped with chairs and a de-humidifier to keep out mold and mildew. Every storm shelter has to be registered with the state so that first responders know where to look in the case of a major disaster. We keep a backpack inside our home packed with bottled water and snack food. In a hurry, we can grab the backpack and head down to the cellar.
Our boys have grown accustomed to the weather coverage on TV in the background or the noise of the tornado siren, and will report downstairs with their shoes on and technology devices in hand. We aren’t typically down there for hours, maybe 20 minutes or so when something gets really close. When they were toddlers, we would call it a storm party so that we wouldn’t have panicked children to deal with.
Luckily, our home has never been hit by a tornado. A few years ago, severe hail broke through almost every window on the back side of our house. Thankfully, we were in the cellar at the time, but the sound of all that breaking glass was deafening. Neighbors, family and friends came quickly to help cover the holes up with plywood and clean up all the glass.
That brings me to a question I get a lot. People often ask, “Why would you live in tornado alley?” I could ask Californians the same question. Earthquakes, wildfires, mudslides, they have their fair share of natural disasters too. Don’t even get me started with people that live with the threat of hurricanes.
I could talk about the low standard of living compared to the rest of the country. Or the amazing sunsets across the plains. But the truth of the matter is this:
The people that live in tornado alley are quite simply good people.
They’re the best. Although many have tried, it’s hard to put a label on us. Sometimes we’re classified as living in the South. Sometimes we’re considered a part of the Midwest. We don’t need a label to feel like we belong. All I know is that when times get tough, we help each other. We pull up our bootstraps and get to work. We mobilize quickly to help others. It’s as simple as that.