The weather forecast on Saturday for the following day, Sunday, May 3, 2009, called for possible severe storms, but by Sunday morning, all mention of severe weather had been taken out of the day’s forecast. Mom and I decided to make a trip to Walmart, something we hate doing, but find it necessary to embark upon once a month or so. It had been raining a lot that week, and the sky looked like it would dump more rain on us later, but we took advantage of a dry spell and headed out.
Leaving Walmart that evening, the sky looked black and it was raining, though not too heavily. We decided, since it was kind of late, to stop at Taco Bell and pick up something to eat for dinner, since neither one of us felt like cooking after getting home and putting all our purchases away.
That decision to stop at Taco Bell probably saved our lives.
We hit a wall of rain about a mile and a half from home. Mom slowed down to a crawl and we slowly made our way home. We were both bitching about the weather and how our food was going to get cold by the time we made it home. The radio was on. There were no warnings.
There is a large curve on the road to my house. As we rounded the curve, our mouths dropped open in shock as we saw a number of trees down in a local doctor’s yard. We drove even more slowly, the rain whipping around the van, and figured the wind must have been bad. Then Mom slammed on the brakes as she noticed several trees lying across the road. That’s when the panic set in.
There are only two roads into our subdivision. The main one was obviously blocked. We turned around and tried the back way, while I frantically called Dad, who was staying at my grandfather’s house that night, to ask what was going on. He turned on the Weather Channel and told us there was a tornado warning for our county.
I immediately went into a panic attack because I had seen trees on houses and our little dog was home alone. I don’t handle that kind of stress well. Dad said he was on his way and Mom and I continued home. Fortunately, the back road into the subdivision was mostly clear. We got home. We had one tree twisted and the power was out (from a couple of power poles just up the street that snapped in half, we later found out). Two houses from us and all up the street, our neighbors weren’t so lucky, as most had several large trees on their home, and in some cases, in their home. One neighbor had his pickup crushed by a tree.
We were lucky. No one was hurt. The tornado was classified as a weak F1. But Mom and I had driven into the tail end of the tornado. Both of us believe that if we had not stopped at Taco Bell for dinner that night, we would have driven right into the tornado and possible have been on one of the sections of road where the trees and power lines came down.
I know people have been through far worse storms than this, such as the folks in Nashville now, but it was terrifying for me, who had never seen that much damage up close.
It’s been a year now, and there are still twisted trees around the neighborhood, but homes have been repaired and no one was hurt. That’s something to be thankful for.