Monday, January 17, 2011

Relative Safety

Relative Safety

Safe is a relative term. Suppose they had a tornado and nobody noticed. Would everyone still be safe? (Oh, remember the indian legend that Town was safe from tornados because it was between a river and a creek?)

On Memorial Day weekend, the day before Wife and I left for Wyoming, and my niece's wedding, Town was placed under a severe storm watch. The tv was lighted up with weathermen reporting on the storms. One line of storms passed us and dropped a tornado just north of Greensburg. (the town wiped out last year) There was a second line of storms approaching from the west but the weatherman said it would produce no tornados because...? So, Wife and I turned off the TV and prepared for bed. It was about 9:30.

The tornado north of Greensburg sashshayed its way through one of those big, three wire, power transmission lines and wiped out 18 sets of poles  cutting power to much of central Kansas. With power out and danger apparently passed we went to bed. ( all Kansas towns have tornado warning sirenes. Ours is less than a block from us and is plenty loud.) A few minutes later we heard a police siren off in the distance. It seemed to be standing still but blew continuously for a minute or two. We, and most people in town heard it and wondered what it was about. I went to sleep, secure in my own bed, with the sure and certain knowledge that all was safe.

Remember, I pointed out that Town was not really between a creek and a river? Both are actually south of town. The creek is on the southern border of town and the Arkansas river is a mile further south.

Well, with everyone in bed, and one poor lonely heroic policeman trying to give warning, a tiny tornado hopped and skipped along just south of Town between the river and the creek. (so much for Indian Legends) It blew down a few farm buildings and destroyed an expensive irrigation system. Our tornado warning system runs off regular power, with no backup. It never made a sound. Nobody knew we had been hit by a tornado until the next day.

I slept through the whole thing. Just like I slept through the earthquake that struck Wyoming when we lived there.

Wife and I got up about 5am the next day to head for Wyoming. When we got outside we saw our six foot wood fence was blown down. (just 20 feet in length) We said to heck with it and headed out. We heard about the tornado when I called a friend later in the day. A few days later Town got 3.5 inches of rain in one night.

From that time on all severe weather has started at the eastern county line and moved east. We didn't even get any rain from the last 4 or 5 storms to tear through the state.

The warning system failure has caused some discussion. The reason the police siren only lasted a couple of minutes is because the police chief told his man to go home and take care of his family. He says he will do the same in the future. The local civic clubs are discussing giving enough money for a second siren at the other end of town and a power backup.

For my own protection I am planning to burn some more tobacco for the Great Spirit... Maybe he will extend his hand over the area just north of the creek and the river.

PS Wife thinks I should go out and fix the fence... It has been three weeks.

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