Remember in the beginning of Twister when a young Helen Hunt rushes to the family storm shelter in the middle of the night with her parents? The sky is black and there are flashes of lightning and echoes of thunder in the distance. They hunker down in the corner as the F-5 seems to seek out their home specifically. The tornado is almost fascinating to Helen Hunt’s childhood character. That is, until the door begins to rattle and shake. The father tries to hold it closed, but no! the cyclone is too strong and he is promptly sucked into oblivion along with the door.
Coming to Ohio from California, my only experience with tornadoes was on the big screen in films like Twister.
My first real-life brush with a tornado came not long after my move to the Midwest. Our CPR training class, full of brand new AmeriCorps recruits, looked around in bewilderment. What was that awful sound? Fire alarm? Terrorist attack? Our instructor left the room only to return with the answer, “Get down to the basement, now! There’s a tornado warning and this isn’t a drill!” The conditions (at least from what I could see out from the second story window) did not seem conducive to the producing of a twister. It was eerily calm and the sky was a pale gray. Although, when the terribly piercing sound that was somewhat reminiscent of British police cruisers filled the Red Cross headquarters of Greater Columbus, I knew Mother Nature was trying to put one over on me.
As we lined the basement hallway of the Red Cross, my girlfriend sent me a text message telling me that Broad Street is in the corridor of the storm. The corridor? Broad Street? We’re on Broad Street; we’re in the corridor. I sat down, called my mother, and told her that I loved her.
Misinformation is what all of this comes down to. I was fascinated with tornadoes when I was a kid, but all of that fascination goes out the window when the real thing happens. Your imagination takes over and you only think of the worst, because movies only show the worst. I needed to be informed and luckily enough, information of what to do in the event of a tornado (and other disasters) comes standard with all Red Cross training.
As another AmeriCorps member pointed out on that eventful day, “At least you’re at the Red Cross. You couldn’t have picked a safer place to be at during a tornado.”
Would you know what to do if something like this happened where you live or work? My fellow AmeriCorps members and I are here to help you say yes. Check out our free presentations available to groups and businesses. Who knows I might end up sharing a “bunker” with you the next time a tornado warning comes about.
Thanks to Stephen Bohigian, Community Disaster Education AmeriCorps member, for this post.