Around 5:15 Tuesday evening, an F1 tornado went through a neighborhood on the north side of our small town (we live on the south side).
By 8:15 that same evening, I was sitting in the local ER with Dale and my Mom.
These two events were unrelated, but made for an exciting - and exhausting - evening.
It all started around 4:00 when I did a routine radar check. This is not unusual because I check the weather approximatively 47 times during a regular day and at least twice that when storms are expected.
As soon as the radar loaded my heart caught in my throat. There was a tornado warning squarely over Greg's school. I read the warning and the news got worse, as the path of the storm was predicted to pass directly over him. They were supposed to be leaving for a field trip of sorts and I called immediately, hoping they were already well on their way, and out of harm's way.
But no, they were waiting it out at the school. Our signal quickly broke and the call was dropped.
I sent out a couple of quick prayer request calls / texts and alternated between frantically checking the internet for any kind of updates, and quietly, tearfully, fervently praying.
Finally, finally, I got the call from him that the storm has passed over without so much as a hailstone.
Oh the relief, and the many prayers of thanks.
I had been so worried about Greg's safety that I had forgotten the most basic information about our local weather. What passes through that area is usually on it's way straight to here. (Greg's school is about 40 miles west of our house.)
My attention quickly turned to preparing our little crew for the still-vicious storm heading our way. The funny thing is, as upset and emotional as I had been when the storm was over Greg, I was completely calm and rational while getting ready for it to hit us.
I have no idea what it would be like to have your home destroyed by a tornado, but I always pack a bag when we know one is coming. Hopefully, if our hiding place is such that we survive, then the backpack does too.
The first thing we always grab is Alan's medicine. It is not available locally, and he takes it twice a day.
After that I pack our external hard drive with all of our pictures and other stuff on it. Sometimes I throw in a small album of wedding pictures, since they aren't on the computer.
Next comes a phone charger, video and digital cameras, and the cables that go with them. If I think about it I throw in an extra set of batteries and charger.
I also pack each boy 1 extra pair of underwear and socks, tennis shoes (if they aren't wearing them) and 1 set of clothing.
We have time to do all this because of that checking the weather 122 times a day thing. We usually have a pretty good idea when a serious storm is coming.
After the bag was packed and in the closet, I returned to vigilantly watching the radar and local warnings.
Decision time came.
It was the first time in my children's lifetime that I have ever actually had them get into the closet and shut the door, instead of just being ready to do so.
We were all calm about the whole thing. Dale read a book. Alan played between my sweaters. Tyler sat quietly in my lap, undoubtedly wondering what in the world we were doing. I called it a practice.
And it turns out, I was right about it being practice. Was it necessary to get in the closet yesterday?
Well.... yes and no. Everything at our house turned out just fine. But just three miles north, an honest-to-goodness tornado touched down and ripped up trees, trailers, power poles, and aluminum buildings.
Again, we gave God thanks that the storm had passed over without harm.
Really? I love storms. I think they are exciting. Until they are in my zip code.
After that, everything was topsy-turvy. I had a splitting headache, and the boys were all hungry.
I got them fed and we spent some time trying to wind down from all the storm excitement. All the while reports were rolling in about the damage done locally. Our little bitty town was even mentioned on the Weather Channel!
Eventually I sent the boys off to get dressed for bed, while I sat trying to relax and rid myself of that tension headache.
It was at precisely this time I heard the thunk. Followed by a second of silence. Followed by wailing.
The second half of my evening had just begun....