I was born in a small Ohio town, not far from Xenia. Xenia was the small town wiped out by the 1974 Super Outbreak tornados. Growing up, I heard the story many times about our family who lived there and witnessed it. You would think that might cause me to fear tornados or severe weather, but I reacted quite the opposite. I grew up in Texas where, as a family, we would watch huge storms roll in. All I saw was the powerful beauty of weather that Mother Nature controlled.
My husband grew up terrified of storms. We agreed to balance my obsession and fearlessness of storms with his storm-terror for the children's sake.
After more than 20 years of living in East Cobb, I have taken cover maybe twice... until last Friday night. The tornado warning was too much even for a storm lover like me.
My husband and I were watching the storm coverage with the kids, probably like most Cobb families. I calmly gathered flashlights and bike helmets. My oldest son Ethan, 6, realized the situation was serious. I should have administered a Valium to him. The poor kid lost it. When we headed into my parents room to camp out in the closet, he became a basket case. My youngest son Quinn, 3, wore his Dino bike helmet and played. My husband, my mom and I were calming Ethan and monitoring the tornado threat. I wasn't sure what to fear more, the storm or Ethan's severe storm phobia.
My husband and I have never showed fear or worry during severe weather, so it's confusing to know where Ethan's fear is coming from. I realize it's scary to be "under the gun" as we were on Friday night, but I think as a family (my parents, my husband and I) we portrayed a very calm front to the kids.
The unnerving part of the tornado fiasco was figuring out where to hide. We've never had to take cover in my parent's house where we all now live. The floor plan doesn't offer what chief meteorologist Glenn Burns would consider an ideal tornado hiding location. The only interior room without windows is under the stairs, next to the water heater. Christmas decorations are stored there, and Friday night's tornado warning gave us no time to move it. Mom's closet was the most logical choice.
Our family fit comfortably inside the closet. The boys and I had bike helmets on. We were covered with blankets. My dad was lying in bed. My mom and husband were wandering from the television to the closet and helping to calm Ethan.
Looking back, we weren't prepared as we should be. We likely scored a C- on the job of ducking and covering.
The National Weather Service predicts a long storm season for Georgia. After seeing the news coverage of last week's tornado destruction in so many states, Georgia included, I feel lucky and grateful that Mother Nature spared the very populated East Cobb area. I know there was damage off Roswell Road, but the damage that we could have seen had that tornado grounded on its way to Roswell and Alpharetta would have been devastating.
Before the next storm hits, I'm moving the Christmas decorations from under the stairs, checking out books about tornados and severe weather for Ethan, and coming up with a tornado action plan.