Watching weather reports on Irene, I recall an ordinary day that occurred a few months ago: my father warns me of a tornado warning, like every other time, and I shrug it off. “We’ve never had one, those crazy meteorologists are just covering their butts”, I said to myself. After going out, I came home with 10 texts from my husband, and a phone call or three from my in-laws. On the TV, I saw where my husband works… with a tornado going over it.
Frantically I called more times than I should have with no luck getting through. Luckily, despite the cell signal for calls not working, my techie husband was able to respond saying he was fine on Facebook. (Thank goodness for 4G.)There were others not as lucky, including one person who died right next to his workplace. Apparently he was luckier than I thought, avoiding the tornado a few times as his journey home crossed it more than once. He rushes into the house, yelling for us all and our dogs to run downstairs where we hid until the TV told us we were safe. We learned an important lesson that week: the only way the Bruins can win the Stanley Cup, is with their state getting hit by a tornado. Oh… and we learned that Massachusetts can get hit by a tornado.
Then last month, we went to vacation at the Cape. We left early when we heard another bad storm came in, and knocked our tree down. Aside from our neighbors’ broken fence, we had no real issues, which was more than we could say about the trees that crushed cars in our neighborhood. Other houses in our city had damage, and then we seemed to really learn our lesson.
A few days ago, I cracked a tooth and thought that it would be the worst thing I’d experience that week. As I sat down praying for the Advil to work and for the Novocaine to wear off, I realized the chair I was in was shaking. Searching for the dog I thought was moving it, I realized the dogs were in the other room and the lamp was also shaking. I sighed, deciding my dentist had drugged me up and I was hallucinating as a result. A few minutes later, my mother called asking if I felt it. “No mom, they numbed my mouth so well, I still can’t feel it.” I could hear her sigh, and then she said “there was an earthquake in Virginia, and we felt the aftershock. Your brother said he felt it, I didn’t, and I wondered if you had.” At first, and I believed this idea occurred because I had been out of it as a result of my tooth, I became relieved that I wasn’t going crazy and hallucinating. Then it really hit me that we had experienced natural disasters we hadn’t in a long time or even ever, all in a few months span.
Now, much like everyone else in Massachusetts who had never had these extreme weather situations occur, I twitch every time an alert pops up for a tornado. We no longer take it lightly. Even more than that, any weather alert now turns us into basket cases, because before we never believed it would happen. The lucky thing about where we live, the worst we have to worry about is a bad snow storm, covering us in ice and snow. We now believe anything can happen.
Currently, we are under a hurricane watch, which normally we shrug at. Sure, we prepare to a point of “just enough”, because something maybe happens. That’s all changed now. Stores have run out of generators, waters, even gas. We made sure we secured our outdoor stuff and locked up the rest. Just in case. We’ve joined the rest of the country, we get scared now. We watch weather reports and pray, though normally we say “if you don’t like the weather in New England, wait five minutes”. While that remains true, those five minutes could bring bad things.
I don’t think fear solves anything; it just makes people overreact and really worsens the situation. I don’t particularly enjoy now looking at the weather, praying something bad doesn’t happen again. But I do think that it’s good now that we hit the point many teenagers do upon reaching adulthood: we’re not invincible. No place is really safe from it. All we can do is prepare and hope for the best.