Friday, May 13, 2011

Surviving the Tornado

On April 28, a tornado supercell ploughed through the Southeastern States. I once wrote a poem called "Our Nasty Weather Is Someone's Disaster," about how many weather disasters had passed by Gate City, Virginia, wreaking all kinds of havoc elsewhere while we just got rain and more rain. I knew the sequence of storms that passed over my home from all different directions, on April 28, were someone's disaster too, because there were so many of them, because the big trees up on the mountain were quaking like aspen leaves and hail was bouncing off my storm windows, because the wind and rain swirled around in the circular pattern called a cyclone...but I still had lights in my home office.


Late that night I discovered that this time it wasn't only rain as usual. Hail had pounded the roof in the older part of the house, flooding the attic and shorting out the electricity (all wires in the older part of the house run through the attic). I'm lucky that the refrigerator, the air conditioner, and most of the lights died without starting a fire.

When I went into town to write what turned out to be my very last AC article, I heard that homes had been destroyed in Kingsport, ten miles away. Bristol, thirty miles away, had seen its first documented funnel cloud. Trailers had been reduced to rubble; people had been injured or killed; a town I've never visited called Glade Spring was a real disaster area, and further south, in flatter places where mountains don't break the impact of storms, whole communities were devastated.

None of our local construction or electrical workers (several of whom are related to me) has offered to fix my attic, or will, while people as close as Bristol are actually homeless. I wouldn't want them to. I can sleep in the office, or find my way to the bedroom at night with a flashlight, for a few days. "Few days" is a key concept here.

Although technically I suppose I'm a cyclone rather than a tornado survivor, any contributions you make toward repairing my home will help offset efforts that are being made to help tornado survivors in Bristol too. Waiting for the homeless to be helped first, and paying for the repairs my home will need, are my contribution.