In Which We Almost Dance With Tornados

Too close for comfort, but not that close

Not too long after the big tornado dance we moved to the Austin, TX area (for reasons not tornado-related). A few years later, a huge tornado destroyed much of the town of Jarrel (perhaps thinkingit was a tornado park), and wandered down Highway 183 into north Austin. Along the way it skipped through Leander and Cedar Park. In Cedar Park, it hit a brand new Alberston's. My family stood watching in awe from about three miles away as the dust cloud at the bottom of the funnel blossomed; my wife guessed correctly the intersection it was hitting. While they were nervous, they were safe. I was in town at work, wishing I could see it, wondering if it would get to where I was on 183 (it ascended back into the clouds about 2 miles north of me).

A bit closer

The following spring, I was heading to church Wednesday evening, with a storm gathering behind me. Out of the blue (or rather the gray) I felt like I should be praying for our house and our neighbors. (This had never happened before.) Later we found that right about that time, a small tornado skipped over our neighbor's house up the hill, shook the chicken coop good (frightening one hen, Lucy, to death), and rolled up half the sheet metal roof of our barn, like the top of a sardine can. Nobody hurt, not even any major damage.

A close shave for the tornado magnates

Tornado magnates? Guess not. That would imply profiting from them And controlling them. So I guess the correct phrase is tornado magnets.

Last night on the way home from the youth discipleship groups, a nasty storm was brewing. And the thunder was definitely the wrong sort - the sort that goes with tornadoes.

We got home just before the storm got ugly. The lightning was beautiful and prolific, the rain and wind were picking up. We got out the flashlights, and had a prayer, since old fears were seeping back in. Peace filled the house.

A thought flooded my mind. "You are about to lose every last worldly possession." It didn't have the "feel" of being from God, so I ignored it. Things started bonking the house. I opened the back door to try to decide what was making the noise. Poquan, one of our dogs, ran out of her dogloo, hoping to get into the house. A moment later, as lightning again lit up the back yard, Esther started making strange noises, which was a bit odd since she'd been fine the moment before. Hail started hitting the windows, which meant it was flying sideways, and the power went out. We knew what that meant. Sharon and Esther went into the coat closet, Josiah and I into an interior bedroom closet. No fear, no panic, just doing what we needed to do.

We kept the doors open, hands on the knobs. I started praying out loud. Suddenly my voice was shaky, as if I was afraid, but I didn't *feel* fearful.. So I just prayed quietly so to not worry Josiah any more.

The apparent fear passed. Nothing happened. Nothing happened again. More of it happened. So we stepped out into the quiet, only to hear hail hitting the side of the house again. ``That woubd be the back side of a tornado. It just went over us," I announced. We looked outside. Our biggest tree was snapped off about 8 feet up, just like all the trees back in GA. Poquan's dogloo was about 20 feet from where it had been, on its side. Susanna was safely in the other dogloo. It was a good thing Poquan had come out of here.

The reason Esther had been making strange noises was that when the lightning lit up the back yard, she'd seen a "column of white" right at Poquan's dogloo. Not lightning, none hit that close. A streamer off the tornado? An angel protecting the house? I guess the former, but who knows?

We're fine. The tree is the only major damage, and it didn't fall on anything. We need to get someone to look at the roof; I can't get up there with my whacked back but Josiah said a few shingles look a bit loose, and one of the attic vents is cattywompus. That seems to be it. There may have been several tornados, or else the one went several miles without ever touching down, just dancing along over everything, like the finger of God pointing out what could have happened, and how tenuous our hold on our possessions, or even our lives here, really is.

There was lots of wind damage all over the area, but we definitely got brushed by Mr. Tornado again.

We checked on neighbors; a few were shook up, but everyone was OK, and there was no major damage. The next day, the papers barely mentioned it. Obviously, none of the reporters or editors had been hiding in their closets or tubs the night before!

Last updated: 04 June 2005

Copyright 1995 Miles O'Neal, Austin, TX. All rights reserved.

Miles O'Neal <> [remove the "XYZZY." to make things work!] c/o RNN / 1705 Oak Forest Dr / Round Rock, TX / 78681-1514