April 17, 2012: Tornado Evacuation of 2003

The boys in their matching P.J.s made by Grandma Mary ~ Summer of 2003

In the Midwest, we all know that our ordinary summer days can quickly turn into tornado scares with greenish colored skies, blowing winds, and screaming sirens.  With this last weekend full of tornado warnings throughout most of the Midwest, memories of seeking shelter filled my mind.  When I was growing up, our shelter was a cellar with access only from an outside door.  For me, storm sirens bring back flashbacks of my dad carrying me through ripping winds as I held on for dear life as he pulled open the cellar door and we were greeted with darkness and the smell of moist dirt.  The sounds of whipping branches filled our ears while Mom attempted to mute out the frightening noises by turning up the volume on our small portable radio; our only outlet of communication from the outside world.  And we sat in the dark staring at jars of canned vegetables lining the dirt walls until hearing the "all clear" signal.

Although the threat of tornadoes are just as scary in today's times, I believe I minimize it a bit more with the convenient access of my comfy basement and the various real time updates available on our big screens and smart phones.  My kids haven't experienced my many stormy nights in the cellar, but they do know that their cushy basement is the place to be when the sirens blare.  Zach, my ever-responsible oldest son, performs brilliantly in evacuation situations such as these.  As much as he doesn't like the stereotype of being the "responsible one", he can't run away from his genetic make-up.  A favorite story I have of Zach demonstrating his innate ability to "run the show" is of his first tornado evacuation in the Lane home.

On this particular night, I was home alone with the boys as Scott was working nights.  It was stormy.  But with no immediate threats of severe weather, I tucked the boys in for bed.  Now is where I need to confess a bit on a weakness of mine.  I like my sleep.  Once I go to bed, I like to enjoy a deep sleep until my morning alarm rings when I hit the snooze button at least three times before waking up.  When Grant was a baby, I remember telling people that he was sleeping through the night at two weeks old and the responding look of shock on their faces.  In retrospect, I believe I just didn't wake up.  Amazing how our kids survive with non perfect (sleepy :)) parents, isn't it?

My memory of this particular stormy night was Zach pulling my arm and begging me to get out of bed.  My next recollection after the fog of following him into the basement was sitting in a bean bag chair with my little white Maltese, Harry, placed on my lap.  On the bean bag next to me was a seven year old Ben with a sleepy Grant with his dat (Grant's word for his blankie) and stuffed "Baxter" snuggled in next to Ben.  At the TV with his orthodontic head gear in place was Zach, finding the best station on the big screen for tornado updates.  Zach turned to me as he adjusted the volume up to inform me, "Mom, the sirens went off.  How did you not hear that?  We are in a tornado warning for the next forty-five minutes."  "Oh,"  I answered as I looked around the basement and realized that Zach single handedly evacuated the house, including me, to the safety of the basement.  "Thanks, Zach."  No tornadoes that night as we all went back to the comforts of our beds following the end of the tornado warning.

This last Saturday as I worried about a sick Zach in Omaha at my house alone, I called the neighbors to ask them to check and make sure he took shelter in the basement if the sirens went off.  Later he called to inform me that he was already in the basement of his dad's house keeping an eye on his brother.  Yea, of course you are, Zach.  What was I thinking?


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