Wednesday, July 12, 2006
There we were driving home from an evening outing when the cry of air raid sirens issues all around. WTF?
Last time I heard sirens was during the Gulf War. But the bold blast back then was so very different from this thin & tinny bleating that it didn't prompt freak-out or even flashback mode.
At least not as related to missiles. This is tornado territory. I know it logically so the audio cue unearthed buried memories of a different sort: huddling together with siblings aged 3, 7 and 13 in our basement as the wail surrounded. I was ten at the time; we were amazingly calm and mature despite our parents' absence (they were racing home to reach us following a therapy session).
At least once a year in these parts the sky turns eerie green/grey/yellow and the air suddenly stills signaling tornado build-up. If enough humidity, rising heat and thunderstorm action gets going, a watch and then warning are issued and then a full blown: Get Ye in the Basement Now! is broadcast.
In 1999 a tornado touched down here killing four and rendering $9.2 million in damages. I was living in San Fran at the time but was highly unsettled - as were my siblings - to learn it touched down two blocks over from my ma's house. She slept through it. And was angry when her neighbor phoned, waking her early the next morning. Go look out the window the neighbor prompted my obviously irritated mother. WTF? (except my mom doesn't swear)
Bizarre to go down to the basement as an adult with my son tonight. He was terrified and wide eyed, particularly when the television issued a buzz and emergency tone - the high pitched monotone they always remind is "only a test of the emergency broadcast system"- except when it isn't, like this evening.
All's well. No touchdown here. Damage in other parts of the city however but no deaths or injuries. La dee dah. That'll be enough of that memory, thanks.