Tornado Over Raleigh 04/16/2011

On April 16th, our neighborhood was spared the devastation of some 62 tornadoes that touched down in our area. We live in a place were tornadoes are few and far between (although I come from a state that is used to such things) and this is the first time in the 9 years we’ve lived here that we’ve had to duck and cover (hurricanes? Yes, we’ve had those, but no tornadoes).

Cloudy with a chance of FREAKING OUT!

Digression: On March 4 2010, we watched a movie that has become infamous in our household: “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” This was at the very beginning of what became an epic regression for Chi and a complete shutdown at school that resulted in him missing a bunch of school so he could get his work done at home. This also marks the beginning of Chi’s anxiety with the weather. And the news.

We cannot watch the weather or the news with Chi in the house. He seems to have some sort of sixth sense (although with him it might be an eighth sense) when it comes to informational TV that may, or may not, contain questionable material. He can’t seem to file this type of information away. It eats at his sense of security and erodes his self-control to the point of anxiety attacks and fetal positions.

We cannot even talk about the weather. Yeah. It’s that bad. (end digression)

SO

A half mile from our neighborhood.

We do not have cable or satellite TV (couldn’t keep track of the weather that way anyhow, now could we?) so we get our weather information from the internet. We knew that the weather that Saturday was supposed to be sketchy at best so we maintained “constant vigilance” (think Mad-eye Moody).

It was grey and overcast all day with the temperature dropping and the wind whipping to and fro all day. Those grey clouds spit rain on occasion, but other than the clouds tracking across the sky at a fast pace, there seemed no real cause for concern. There were tornado watches all day (which normally means nothing around here), but at

No one was hurt.

around 330p things started getting a little hairy with warnings popping up southwest of the city.

As the warnings moved closer, we heard that the system was moving through the area at an astonishing 75 mph. Trying to be as nonchalant at possible I requested that my three kids and my niece, who had spent the night, gather their pillows and favorite stuffed friends and bring them downstairs “just in case.”

At around 355p a warning was issued for our area and I, again as calmly as possible, asked them to gather their items and head into the half bath off the kitchen. I gathered my phone and

This really doesn't do the extent of the damage justice.

laptop and a cat (Hubs gathered the other cat and Doodle’s “not a dog”) and headed into the bathroom with the kids. I shut the door and headed back into the kitchen to get a flashlight and urge my brother to come in off the porch “for godsake!” and then shut myself in with the kids.

The girls were singing and Pieces was having a grand ole time. Chi, on the other hand, was falling a part. He was vibrating so hard I thought he might come apart at the seams, and his eyes were gigantic. Not only that, but his pupils were obliterating any blue whatsoever. He was talking really loudly and just generally freaking out. It was starting to effect Abshie and Pynni (Pieces being oblivious and rather finding the camping in the bathroom to be a right jolly experience. Quite a fantastic idea, if he did say so himself).

Not actually Chi.


I knew I had to get Chi under control if I was to keep everyone else calm. So I pressed my hands down on his shoulders (a deep pressure technique to help calm him) and began talking to him in a very calm, very matter-of-fact voice. I started telling him all about tornadoes. I told him everything I had ever learned about how they form and why. I talked about the weather and how systems move across the state. I talked about watches and warnings and what the difference was and what they meant. I told him about why we were holing up in the bathroom.

And do you know what? He calmed down. He even told me afterward that he wanted to learn all there was to know about tornadoes and weather. He asked if we could learn about that when we start homeschooling. Of course. Of course, we can.

We have to drive through the areas that you see in the photos above to get to Pieces preschool and go to the grocery store. It is wrenching every time. A few days after this, I took Chi with me to pick up our CSA which takes us through this devastation. I could see that Chi was really having a hard time processing what he was seeing. We discussed that the houses were gone or broken because of the tornado. I told him, “You know what, though? No one was hurt. They were all able to get to the safest part of their houses like we did.” Chi just nodded.

We had to pass back through on our way home from the pick up location. When we got past the worst of it, Chi was still silent. Then he said, “You know, Mom? Those tornadoes sure do break a lot of things.” pause “…but they make every thing else really green!”

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