Tornado Warning

Stephanie G

Sitting with my children having a movie day, I’m scrolling through my phone checking for weather updates and Facebook to see friends and family are safe and well. Suddenly my phone alerts me “Tornado Warning”, the warning instructs us to take cover. I look at it confused. There are clouds in the sky, but it’s perfectly calm and there isn’t even rain falling. I already packed a diaper bag, not really because I was concerned about the tornado warning. I was more concerned with the flash flood warnings for our area. This is the first time we’ve experienced severe weather since we moved here, so we’re not familiar with the areas that are prone to flooding.

A little while later it starts raining very heavy as well as lightning and thunder. My children become a bit fearful. My phone alerts me of another tornado warning. This time I’m a bit more concerned. The wind had begun picking up. I was looking out windows all throughout the house, I saw nothing. Even still, I wasn’t too worried I figured it’s better to be prepared. I shoved some clothes in a bag and rounded up my children’s favorite toys for comfort and put it all in the master bath closet. I figured I’d end up just taking it all out later. I went back to check on the kids with their movie and I realized how violent the wind had become. I was actually concerned about a storm. For the first time since I was a kid, I was freaking the F#@! out. I rushed my children into the closet and closed the doors. I got them situated to one side of the closet so if I needed to I could quickly get in, sit down and close the door.

Sitting on the the toilet in front of the closet clutching my 5 month old close, I watched my 2 and 4 year old obliviously playing on the iPad. The thunder grew louder and the house began to moan from the gusts of wind. I sat there with my heart pounding in my chest, adrenaline coursing through me trying so hard toIMG_1754 stay calm. A mantra in my head, “if you freak out, the kids freak out.” My toddlers began to grow aware of the raging storm and began asking questions. My 2 year old is a beast and she was just mimicking her sister, she wasn’t actually scared. My 4 year old on the other hand, she has autism. Loud noises tend to be a sensory overload sometimes, when she is not expecting the noise. My common approach is to be honest and tell her the truth no matter how scary it may be. So I explained to her it was a thunderstorm and that it may even be a tornado. After explaining the “scariness” of the tornado she began to shout, “Be quiet sky! Don’t make any tornados!” It was much needed humor to shake me out of my fright, but it didn’t last long.

I received a text message from my husband, “Everything ok?” At that moment I felt like I was about to pass out. While I was busy corralling my children into the closet the love of my life completely slipped my mind. My husband was at work. Where the entire store front is floor to ceiling windows. I felt the bile rise in my throat. Before I could finishing processing how upset I was the lights began to flicker, in that same dramatic fashion as a movie. I remembered at the moment no matter what happens I have to do my best to keep our babies safe. As I’m listening to this 70 year old home creak and moan, I’m trying so hard to keep myself calm. I’m focusing on listening for shattering glass or cracking. Anything that may indicate that there’s a tornado and I needed to curl my ass up in that closet next to my babies.

Finally after 30mins of sitting there the storm started to let up. I walked around and checked the house to make sure everything was intact and the storm was actually calm. The children were happy to wander the house and I’m now free to relax and let go of my panic. My husband is home just moments later since he only works down the street. He sees the girls are all perfectly content and not effected by the situation and immediately takes me into his arms and hugs me. He hugs me so tight. I can only imagine the panic he was in, not being right next to us during those 30 mins. Not only was it me he was worried for, but his entire life. His whole existence was huddled together terrified and possibly in danger, and he could do nothing. That moment we hugged each other was a moment of pure joy, relief, and love. Perhaps, it really wasn’t a life threatening situation, but it was terrifying none the less.

Hold your loved ones close every time you embrace. Always say “I love you”, even if you’re angry. Never forget how big of a piece to your life someone is.
Our thoughts and hope are going out to all the families effected by this terrible series of floods and storms.

S Garza

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