Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Good Friday Tornado
When I got home, I turned on the TV and realized how irresponsible we had been. Local weather news had preempted all other programming for hours, and I switched it on just as Mike Roberts pointed to the radar map, right where my sister and brother-in-law live, and announced, "This is a debris cloud."
It's estimated that 5 tornadoes hit the St. Louis area, ranging up to F4. It it a miracle that no one was killed? Or is it because of the hard work of meteorologists, the saturation coverage of weather, and the county's emergency services? Probably all of these. My sister took the photo above, as well as these. Luckily, their home was not damaged.
I heard the tornado sirens, and was foolish enough to them, but it could have been much worse without warnings. On January 24, 1967, my mom drove me through a terrible storm to a scout meeting. Shortly before the meeting was over, Debbie's mom came down the steps. She was soaked, her coat was muddy, and we immediately went silent. She told us there had been a tornado, and that she didn't see how people could have survived in some of the homes she'd seen. We all ran up to the parking lot which overlooked the subdivisions. All was dark. Was the power out? Or were the homes really gone? At that moment, we didn't know. Three people died in that tornado, and hundreds were injured, included 2 of our friends who hadn't made it to the meeting. There had been no warning, other than a prediction of storms. Prior to last week, the ’67 storm was the last F4 to hit the Saint Louis area.
Many times my mom has told us the story of the tornadoes in 1896 that hit St. Louis and East St. Louis. Her uncle George was missing after the storm, and his brother Art went out in the rain to look through the rubble. He found George, still alive, buried under the bricks of the building where he worked. George survived grotesque injuries, but Art died of pneumonia soon after. The storm of 1896 killed 255; the third deadliest in US history.
So, yes, I do know better. Next time I'll take a flashlight and the dog and head for the basement. Scout's honor!