Hamburgers, flashlights and Tornado sirens…

Tornado

As we all know  Friday 03-02-2012, that’s the day the storms and Tornadoes’ rolled through the Midwest causing much destruction and loss of life.  Thankfully we have weather forecasters’’ and they were able to alert as many people as they could through TV, internet, radio and the City sirens. I am reminded that not too long ago, (Okay, the 70’s) when I was a kid we didn’t have the advancements that we are blessed with today. No Doppler radar, or wind velocity maps. Just Marsha Yockey and her magic pin. So when storms blew “up” as she would say, my mom would gather us (my little brother and me) and have us sit on the bed, with our shoes on, dressed and ready to “go” if the storm got too bad.  She would sit there also on the bed smoking a cigarette in one hand and holding her purse and car keys in the other.

On more than one occasion we would have to bolt for the car during a storm’s furry and she would drive like mad to my cousin’s house out in the country to get to their basement. Not a lot of sense involved in that though the intentions were good. Get out of the house and into a secure basement. The trouble was that our “basement” was at least ten to fifteen minutes away or better depending on if my mom could see through the blinding sheets of rain and wind.  But we did this quite often really not knowing how bad the storm was or wasn’t. It was all up to her. She used to say after a storm had blown over that it was “coming back ‘round”. Ever hear that old saying? I used to think that the storm moved passed us, did a u turn and was “coming back ‘round again” to run over us again. Funny the innocence of my youth…

So here we are today. Modern as modern can be but still primitive to things that we haven’t even seen. Meaning that, in the year 1492, Columbus’s ships were “modern” for that day. Today some 600 years later they are primitive compared to what we have today but that is for another time and subject.  Back to the storms. So today we have all this technology. During the pre, post and game time storm cast we had weather forecasters’ on all the local TV stations. The schools were let out early. We had storm chasers from the weather channel in the area I am told. We had weather related simulcasts on all the local radio stations, and internet. Cell phone weather alerts were popping up every few minutes too. Thirty minutes before the storms were expected to hit, the City of Henderson started sounding off the city wide sirens to alert people to seek shelter.  All this for our own protection and safety. But here is where I am going with all this…

I work for the City. We had received an email from our City Manager to be off the roads and seek shelter before the storm hits. As I drove from my work area out near Sebree Kentucky I noticed the power and light people (HMP&L and KU) on standby. Trucks ready to roll out after the storm passes. Safe but ready to start restoring power if need be. So what else did I see as I drove through town while the sirens were going off and all the radio stations, the email alerts and other media was warning people of an approaching tornado? People still not seeking shelter. McDonald’s was still serving food. The dollar store on Clay Street was still checking people out at the register. I know that because like the rest of the people not seeking shelter…I had to stop and buy my grandfather a flashlight. He is 91 and he couldn’t wait for the storm to be over before he had one. He was afraid the power would go out and his oxygen would stop and he couldn’t see his portable tanks. So he panicked and I ran him the flashlight as the storm grew closer and the sirens grew louder. I have a friend who will remain anonymous. He called me while the storm sirens were going off. Where was he? In a storm shelter? Nope. In a hallway in the middle of his house? No. He was at a local drive in restaurant eating a hamburger while the sirens were blasting in his ear…

As I drove down the main street of Henderson I saw traffic everywhere. I am sure some people sought the safety of a basement or inner room of a house. I made sure my kids were safe in basements. My wife or I couldn’t be with them but we made sure they were safe. So why the complacency in some people? Are we over exposed? Or, no longer care? Have we grown numb of the warnings or do we no longer know what to do when we get them? It’s as life just continues on and no one wants to stand still for thirty minutes and protect themselves? Is it like that everywhere? Just ignore the warnings and it will go away? I have heard comments that say the sirens going off scare the hell out of people and cause fear and they are too much. But then I think about Henryville and Maryville. Those towns were basically wiped off the map despite the warnings. So despite the “annoying” weather sirens lives were still lost. I wonder how many people were out driving around in those two towns as the tornadoes’ rolled through. I wonder how many lives were saved because they did heed the warning and weren’t complacent. In reality it’s not a gamble we should take. But most of us do. And some of us pay for it. I know some lives were lost even though they did the right thing and sought shelter and it still didn’t matter but they did try to protect themselves.Tornado

I don’t have the answers. I only have the questions. Why are we the way that were about storm warnings? If someone told us our house was on fire we would get out of it in a heartbeat if we could. But someone that’s a professional warning us of a good possibility of dangerous weather we balk at it…

I don’t get it. But here we are. I can’t point fingers either because I was getting Pop a flashlight. It could have waited. Now I made it to shelter just minutes before the storm hit but still I cut it too close.

So why are we complacent, and what can we do about it? We need to not worry about hamburgers and flashlights and heed the warnings…Opinions?

Chuck

Share on Facebook