I could see the fear developing in my 5-year-old daughter’s eyes while we waited out last week’s storm.
She’s very interested in all things tornado. She was before last week’s storm, and now, she’s even more interested in why tornadoes happen.
While hunkered down in our basement, with my son spinning in circles like a tornado and with our phones buzzing every few minutes with updates of a storm, my daughter was beginning to realize the magnitude of the situation.
However, she wasn’t realizing the total “hunker down” part. When I was growing up, our basement was just a hole underneath our house and we turned on the local radio station to hear about weather. AM radio featuring weather reports was not quite up to the standard of entertainment that we sought as youngsters.
Now, my children are in a finished basement with cable and a toy room.
My daughter’s fears were likely rising because my wife and I were becoming a little worried about the storm’s path. Our home ended up safe from danger, but there were a few moments where the likelihood of destruction was high. And that worry was translating to my daughter.
“Is the tornado going to suck up our house?” she asked. “Are we going to be sucked up by a tornado? What about my toys upstairs? Why is there a tornado?”
She’s full of questions. And in cases such as last Thursday, we didn’t have answers. We were waiting for answers, just as she was.
We didn’t know if we would be safe. We didn’t know about our home or other belongings. What we did know is that we were as prepared as we could have been for a possible tornado. That’s all you can hope for in those situations.
That answer sufficed for a few moments until she realized that all her dolls could be sucked up; then she wanted me to go upstairs and bring all her belongings downstairs. I appreciated her concern for my safety, but I declined.
This town was lucky last week. The people who suffered property damage may not see that now, but no injuries were reported in Clinton, and if the tornado had taken a different path, who knows what kind of destruction could have been reported.
Just look to the east to find out how tornadoes can leave a town decimated.
Much of the luck Clinton received was in the amount of time people had to prepare for the storm. We knew there was a chance for severe weather earlier in the day, but we’ve all been there before, when meteorologists tell us one thing, and the weather tells us another.
Then, the sirens went off. We’ve been there before, too, when sirens go off and there’s nothing more than a few limbs blown off trees.
However, now with technology, my wife and I sign up for various weather alerts, and our phones were blowing up, with confirmed reports of a tornado spotted near the airport and dire warnings to seek shelter.
We were already in our basement, but those warnings and confirmed reports made it real. This wasn’t just another overzealous weather report. This was serious, and I think many residents got the hint, giving way to being prepared and avoiding a much worse outcome.
Even when the all clear became reality, residents and local officials stepped up to make sure the city would recover.
The Clinton County Emergency Management Agency quickly released a statement, giving people up-to-date information on what happened and what to do in the coming days. As a newspaper, we can reach thousands of people in an instant at www.clintonherald.com, and we were able to disseminate that release right away, thanks to the quick information-gathering of the agency.
And that’s what happened after the storm. People worked together to help others. Neighbors helped neighbors. The city hauled away downed trees. The community came together, and for the most part, the mess is already a memory.
This won’t be the last time this year for severe weather. There are several entities, like the American Red Cross app, the Clinton Herald textcaster system or the Clinton County Emergency Management Agency notification service, that allow residents to be prepared for upcoming storms.
It’s not only being notified at the time of a storm. People should know where to go during a storm and realize that even after the storm hits, danger still persists.
There always will be a little fear of severe weather. With preparation, some of those worries can subside, and hopefully part of that preparation won’t be a massive transport of dolls to the basement.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com.