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Code Brown: Tornado Preparedness

Today is the first day of spring.  It brings the promise of flowers, spring rain, warmer days and tornados.  The state of Virginia ensured that we’re all ready for such things by running test tornado alerts today.  This morning at work, everyone’s cell phones rang with the alert, except one.  My boss got a call that said, “This is a Code Brown.”

Hell yeah, it’s a Code Brown…in our pants!  Tornados are no joke and I fear them with a hysteria that surpasses the caution of any sensible person.  Tornados are the reason that I told my bosses early on that I would never move to the corporate office in tornado alley.  I enjoy thunderstorms and I scoff at hurricanes.  Tornados are another thing altogether.  I have early memories of huddling under a blanket with my sister while my mom paced by the windows.  I also remember once visiting my grandparents and getting hauled to a nearby town that had been flattened by a tornado.  Good idea, guys.  That didn’t do any lasting damage at all.

As I sit here reluctantly welcoming a new tornado season, a nasty spring storm has blown in and I’m jumpy.  My tornado closet isn’t ready.  I’m not sure my tornado closet is ever actually ready, but if push came to shove, literally, I could probably get both kids and one and half cats in there.  I could (and should) clean it all out and be prepared, especially considering my tornado panic, level brown.  But, quite honestly, I’m kind of fatalistic about the whole subject.  Have you ever seen the pictures of an aftermath of a tornado?  Have you ever watched Storm Chasers?  (Yes, I watch Storm Chasers.  I have a fear that borders on obsession.  It’s my own personal horror show.)  My point is, if a tornado hits, I can’t believe that my closet is going to save me.  Fortunately for me, I live in Virginia, and we don’t get that many tornados here, so I don’t have to spend a completely unhealthy amount of time giving myself a tornado ulcer.  However, the few twisters that we do get are getting more frequent, so it behooves me to develop a preparedness plan, which I shall now share with you.

  • When the Tornado Watch is issued, crack a window so I’ll hear the tornado siren, should it come to that.
  • Try to act normal so as not to panic the children and invite spousal mocking
  • If and when the Tornado Warning is issued, lose all sensibility and behave like a crazy lady jacked up on meth
  • Scoop all the crap out of my tornado closet, thereby creating a huge mess for myself to clean up later
  • Throw blankets and pillows in the closet and explain to the kids that if I say come here, I mean come here NOW
  • Screech at husband to get back in the house and watch the skies from the window,  which is obviously a safe place to be should a tornado hit
  • Refresh the Weather Channel updates every fifteen seconds
  • Eventually get bored with the whole thing and go to bed

It’s not much of a plan, but it is one.  I mean, I could have an elaborate plan with our safe place all stocked with flashlights and bottled water and medication, but it just seems more trouble than it’s worth.  For one thing, most Virginia tornados arrive like a thief in the night.  Literally, at night time.  I may fear and respect them, but I draw the line at making my family sleep in the closet.  So, if we get hit at night, we’re pretty well screwed, anyway.  For another, we are dealing with a force that could come out of literally nowhere and completely flatten my home and family, or alternately, we could watch it come down the street and vanish before it reaches us.  How is anyone supposed to plan for that?

Tornados are proof of the saying, “Mother Nature is a Bitch.”  (Is that a saying?  It should be.)  When I try to plan for it as rationally as possible, I still believe the most logical plan of action is also the most well known.  Put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.


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