Dancing in the Storm Shelter

Recently the weather here has been stormy.

And in stormy weather, I am often caught in a feverish ball curled up and trying to ignore the bright flashes of lightning and loud booms of thunder.I snuggle into a shroud of blankets and wait out the storm as long as I can until exhausted I often fall asleep. I am an adult. I am entirely too old for this. But this is only coupled with an interesting fact to learn about me.

I am from a part of Texas that is still a part of Tornado Alley. Tornadoes, large storms, flash flooding, hail, strong winds, these were common occurrences. They were all things I grew up with and became very accustomed to.

My fear of storms is very current.

When I was little severe storms were a reality. We faced a season of them starting around March and at times that lasted until May or June. During this time in school we often had drills to enforce  procedures we could use to protect ourselves. We had designated storm areas that were fortified heavily like castles. We knew what to do even as children. safety became a vital aspect of child’s play. We we were to duck underneath tables and cover our heads, avoid windows and anything that can send debris and glass flying. We followed this closely. If we were at home, we were told to seek refuge in a closet or in the bathroom, just a place enclosed and away from windows.

Knowledge kept us safe. Knowledge gave us power. Knowledge gave us control.

We brought these practices home, built emergency kits with our families, practiced our drills, outlined our ‘safe’ areas. We knew what we were doing.We rehearsed what to do. My parents taught me when I was little to ‘count’ the span of time between a lightning strike and a thunder clap and how to see where the wind is coming from with string. By knowing how close or far the storm was just happened to be very comforting.

I seldom was afraid of storms then, I accepted them. When the sounds of strong winds and pelting rain came  I brought my flashlight with me into the bathtub followed by my stuffed velociraptor (yes, I had a stuffed velociraptor when I was little)  and comforter. I nested there, often bringing books until the storm passed while my parents, close to me in the bathroom kept vigil with the battery-operated radio. I wasn’t scared. I often fell asleep until either I was woken up by the alarm of the clocks resetting or my parents waking me up to go to school the next morning. The storms were just something that happened.

I realized when I began my time at university that my calm acceptance of stormy weathers had changed. The first major storm to hit the city I was curled up in a ball and furiously texting my then boyfriend to be told over and over again “It’s okay.” I felt like a child. But that wouldn’t be accurate. The child me wouldn’t have been afraid.

Even when one of the biggest storms in decades hit the city, I wasn’t scared. The sky that night turned a hellish green. When people say “a tornado sounds like a freight train.” it does. Trust me. I never thought the rain would stop. When you wake up to find hail stones varying in size from golf balls to softballs, you have no choice but to move forward and be happy that your house wasn’t damaged and then do all you can to help those who were affected by the storm.

The younger me would have danced in the rain until the lightning got too close. The younger me respected the power of the storm and knew where that placed me. I was one girl facing the storm. I had knowledge and safe practices as my shield and they kept me confident but humble. I never forgot that nature was something to be feared and marveled.

Step by step, I’ll get back to doing more than shuddering at each glimmer of off-distant lightning. I’ll get back to being able to stand in awe of the beautiful savagery of nature when she creates a tempest. I’ll be able to be calm and sleep through a storm, knowing and embracing the wonderful unity a storm sometimes makes.

Stay safe in stormy weather. When in doubt check out this link if you have any questions on proper storm survival. Arm yourself with knowledge.

 

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