Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Blizzards–Oh, My!

I’ve experienced all types of storms.  When my husband and I visited Fort Sumter sometime between 2000-2005, we experienced the beginning of a hurricane.  The park personnel took us out by boat to the site, but hurried us and cancelled all other tours.  I felt like I had been wrapped in Saran Wrap.  The hot and humid wind bathed me in salt.  I trusted the guides to get us back to Charleston before the true storm began but I was nervous anyway.  By the time they returned us to the harbor, most of us were rain, sweat, and salt-water-logged.  My husband decided that we had time to tour the Yorktown, an aircraft carrier used during WWII.  This took an hour or so as we nearly ran the through the ship to see as much as possible.  He also decided to tour a submarine that was also there. I didn’t go–I don’t like heat and  I am claustrophobic  as well–no way I wanted to enter a sardine can. The husband had pretty much dried off from our trip to Fort Sumter, but when he climbed out of that belly, he was drowning in his own salt-water.  Sorry, to be so descriptive.  We headed out of town, following the parade to get as far away as possible.  We ended up in Columbia and stayed in a hotel.  I have no idea where those who were locals escaped to avoid this bullying storm.

I’ve lived in the Midwest almost all of my life, except for a 7-month stay in Biloxi and a 3-year stay in Oregon, so I know firsthand what a tornado can do.  Trees on top of roofs, cars turned over, houses blown away…..Nothing major ever happened to me or my kin, (except for my great grandfather and mother who lost their home in Iowa in the early 1900s–also the record player given gr great grandfather by Thomas Edison)  but summertime always brought the threat of tornadoes. I remember one in particular when we lived on Warner Lake:


Steamy, mute afternoon—

no singing meadowlarks

no tapping crickets

no clapping leaves.

Silently, a wizard’s cauldron brews.

Across the pasture,

a smoky black cape twirls toward the sky.

Mother with diapered sister,

and I with yipping mutt,

crawl into the fruit-jarred tomb.

We pause in musty dark

when father closes the lid.

A monkey screech of lawn chairs

crashes against the house.

Lions roar above our heads.

Quaking cellar ceiling rages dust.

Flickering candles illumine

ogling scarecrow eyes and gaping mouths.

As quietness returns,

we unearth ourselves to find:

no yellow-brick road to follow,

no ruby-red slippers to claim.

We sop through melted-witch puddles,

sort through straw sticks, rusty tin,

and window shards

before stooping at the tipped wishing well

to collect our copper hopes.


When my husband and I and our two sons moved to South Dakota, we thought growing up in Minnesota, my husband from the Iron Range, that we had seen all that nature could provide in the way of blizzards. The one that hit in 1966 kept me and my friends home from school for quite a few days.  My father who worked in St. Cloud had to sleep at the foundry.  Can you imagine–no shower, little food, and black dust–for days?  YET, we had been in SD only a couple months when I was caught in a white-out so strong I plowed into a snow-mountain caused by the blizzard and lake effect winds.  I had to climb through piles of snow to a house to phone my husband (at least 10 years before cell service).  HE did not believe me.  He mocked me as he directed me to drive out of the mountain. The woman whose house I stopped at was really worried that a snowplow would shove my car further into the snow.  Finally, after husband promised to come save me, the snow plow came barreling down the street. I caught him in time before he shoved my car into the lake.  He pulled me out and I followed him at a distance until I got home, the road closing behind me as I drove nearly blinded in white.  When husband got to our house an hour later, he said he was absolutely shocked in how much snow had come down and how bad the blizzard was.  He had to take the long way around the lake to get home. We learned then and there never to trust a prairie blizzard.  Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t write these stories about nasty Dakota storms for nothing.  She and we lived them!

Thankfully, in all my storm experiences, I haven’t been left without homes or loved ones. I never had to pay $7 a gallon for gas to escape destruction;  I’ve never been without water. I’d NEVER listen to the idiot national radio personality who calls Irma fake news. (NOT HYPERLINKING THAT COMMENT)  I would listen to weather experts who sake “GET OUT OF TOWN!” It is always better to be safe than sorry.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the many  people who have recently faced flooding I can’t imagine and now another Hurricane Irma staring down on others.  I hope we all remember Salvation Army, Red Cross, and evacuation centers with our offerings.  Help starts with all of us.  It is amazing how powerful our nation becomes when we come together unite for an important cause.