It wasn’t supposed to happen. October 20th had been a warm, cloudless day here in Dallas, and though a line of thunderstorms was forecasted to roll through later that night, no one expected more than some rumbles and a bit of rain. After dinner, my husband crossed the street to watch the Cowboys game with our neighbors. My daughters and I binge-watched Glee on Netflix. My cell phone was in another room. Sasha did homework and wasn’t on hers. We might have remained oblivious if Ashlyn hadn’t been on Snapchat and felt her phone vibrate with the first alert.
It wasn’t raining or even windy, so at first we thought the alert was for somewhere far away. Wrong. By the time I got to my phone, my weather app sent out alerts faster than I could read them. We turned on a news broadcast, blaring the volume in the hope we might hear it from our interior bathroom, the only place in our house with no windows. To call it a safe room is an overstatement, but basements don’t exist in Texas and few people have storm shelters, so that’s where we went, bringing the animals in with us. It’s a semi-annual routine that raises my blood pressure and lowers my sanity, mostly because that room is the kids’ domain and I don’t go in there if I can help it. I forget how badly it needs to be cleaned until I’m faced with the prospect of cramming into a tub that probably hasn’t seen a sponge since 2016.
My husband texted, Do I need to come home?
By then the siren blared, but the tornado was apparently near downtown. Close, but not close. I told him to stay put.
The alerts continued. A confirmed tornado on the ground in Preston Hollow, an upscale neighborhood I know well because Sasha had a private tutor there during the years she’d been home-schooled. I cringed, imagining (correctly) the fate of our local independent bookstore.
The storm moved northeast at a fast clip. My husband, who remained in front of a TV in a room that included not one, but two windows, texted me updates of the path, which started to include intersections I drive through daily. Confirmed tornado by Sasha’s community college, three neighborhoods west of our house, and headed our direction. The lights flickered.
This will be close, my husband texted.
Are you in a safe room?
Not yet. It’s raining a little.
How do you know that?!
I was sitting on the floor and glanced at Ashlyn over the bulk of our portly black lab. Her head was bent over her phone, totally unfazed by the reality that our house might be ripped up within moments. Sasha listened to the news report through the cracked-open door. Her eyes grew enormous when she heard the tornado had moved just south of Kroger, headed east. We were slightly southeast of Kroger.
I’m pretty sure I hear it. Going inside now. [Read more…]