|10 Feb 2002 @ 14:57, by Kay Simmons|
This is a bit of a different kind of story about 'Storm Chasers'. It is a true story. I know because I was there. You heard this story over the news a few years ago but as it is said, 'Here is the rest of the story'.
The Eye of the Storm
It is the Middle of January in 1998. The weatherman has told us that, because the weather is so unusually warm, we can expect the Tornado season to begin earlier than usual. Actually the weatherman has been saying this for several days now. On this particular day the sirens have been blowing off and on all day. This is so nerve-wracking and especially so since the siren is located on top of the water tower just behind my house. I am really nervous and I am only able to eat a few bites of my dinner. I have prayed about this all day. It is my normal way when storms are around to go outside and talk with the cloud. But this time I have been told to leave things alone and to allow event to happen. I am full of dread. My community only has about 800 people and many are elderly and I am dreading what a serious storm might do to them. I also have a concern for the children and their safety. Children just don't understand these things very well.
I fall asleep in my lazy-boy watching the weather reports. All at once I awaken to hear the terrible roaring of the winds and I know the tornado is very near. I can hear crashing sounds all around me as trees are uprooted and houses are smashed. It is 2:08am. I can hear police shouting into their mega-horns to take cover. After what seemed like an eternity things grew quiet with only the sounds of lightening and thunder and pounding rains. But the roar has stopped. Thank God. My dogs are really nervous and anxious. They are behind the sofa. I crack the door open and look out and all I see is space and rapid fire lightening bolts and I hear thunder all around me. Where there used to be houses and huge old oak trees there is nothing. I walk out into the front yard very carefully because there is debris everywhere and I am able to see only when there is lightening in the sky and that is most of the time. However there are periods of intense darkness when even the night sky goes into a blackout of all light. There is so much lightening at times that it seems almost like daytime. The night sky keeps moving Back and forth from darkness to brilliant light. The winds begin to blow again and as I return to the house something flies right into my stomach. It is soft and fuzzy but too dark to tell for sure what it is. I grab it and run to the house. I can see by candlelight that it is a little white Christmas Teddy bear. It has a little card still attached that says, " I love you honey, Grandma". It was some little girls Christmas present from her grandma. I start to cry. I hugged that little bear so tightly to my chest. I set it down quickly and take cover as a second tornado strikes my community. I hear something crash into my roof, bounce off and crash into the ground just outside the wall that I have huddled up against with my dogs. The sounds, terrible in the darkness never seem to stop. After some time passes things get quite again except for the thunder and lightening. Once again I venture outside. This time there is a toilet in my driveway and scattered everywhere are the remains of some ones house trailer. This time there are rescue workers everywhere. One of them yells at me, 'Have you seen Alice?' No I shout back. Then I realize that it must be her trailer in my yard along with lots of other things. I bend over and pick up a framed photo of an infant. The glass is broken. Oh God! Why is this happening? I say a quick prayer for Alice and for that little baby too. I can't think straight.
Over the next few days we are inundated with Red Cross, FEMA, Church Volunteers, Insurance people and trucks of water, food and clothing, and cleaning supplies. People gather from everywhere with chain saws to clear roads, yards and the trees that are everywhere. Power is out everywhere. I am told that about 70% of my community is leveled to the ground but no one was injured. Amazing in lieu of all the damage.
One week to the day later, my grand daughters have come to stay with me while their mother, my Daughter goes into town for some supplies. The girls are out in the yard playing on the swings when they come running into the house in hysterics because suddenly the winds have whipped up and another storm is upon us. In minutes the sky has turned to night and the sirens are blowing. I tell the girls that they know the Tornado drill. Each of them grabbed a dog and ran for cover. Unlike during the first storm, I decide to go outside and talk to the clouds. "Remember me? I am the one who loves you, " I call out to the raging storm. All at once I hear a whoosh and turn to see an eagle swoop down into my yard and then soar straight up to just above the treetops and it is followed by three more. They are flying just a few feet above me in a counter clockwise direction. They make a circle around me several times and then break away and fly directly into the tornado, which was just a few blocks from where I was standing. I could hear the roar of the winds. Something tells me that this time the tornado would not strike. I go back inside and find the girls. I tell them it is safe now and that the storm was going away. The girls stay put except for the youngest, Michaela. She goes to the window and then darts outside in excitement. Grandmother she shouts, "The storm is gone!" I run outside and there is not a cloud anywhere and the winds are gone and to my amazement the skies that were so dark a few minutes before are clear. I turn towards the lake and off in the distance. I can see four eagles riding the currents. I blow them a kiss. "What's that kiss for Grandma?" Michaela asks. I point to the eagles and I tell her about the eagles and how they had helped us. The other girls join us now and the little one proceeds to tell them about the eagles and how they had helped us. Those little girls never doubted those eagles and what they did that day. My eyes still fill with tears every time I remember them. Like right now.