Wednesday morning started for me waking to realizing that my house just got hit by a tree (actually discovered a large branch broke through the roof) and a tree fell down in our front yard clipping a roommates car due to a storm with 70+ mph winds. Power was out for about 150k people around Birmingham, including my entire immediate area, and rumor has it that a tornado struck about a mile or two from my house. As we were assessing the damage, I discovered the weather predicted for the area was expected to be historically bad that afternoon.
Eventually, I made my way to a public library that had power and internet to do some work. While there, we watched the widespread tornadoes to the north, knowing that each tornado seems to be getting further and further south. And then we heard that a tornado was heading toward Tuscaloosa, which ratcheted up the interest. Then, as the tornado was just about to enter Tuscaloosa, the tornado sirens went off where I live an hour’s drive away in the general path of that tornado.
Immediately, the library staff sprang into action, shutting everything down and saying that we had to go down to the basement immediately due to the tornado sirens. They acted agitated that we were in grave immediate danger and wanted instant response, even if it meant leaving stuff behind. I was annoyed by this reaction and urgency, considering that we knew where all the supercells were thanks to the TV, and the reason the sirens went off is because Jefferson county (a rather large county) fires off their sirens for the entire county regardless of where the tornado warning is. We clearly had at least an hour before that tornado would reach our location so there was no reason for the behavior.
They then herded us all into a lower-level room that was “the only safe place in the building.” There were about 300 people in this room that was about 80 ft by 30 ft and only about 50 chairs around the cinder-block walls. It had no windows but it might have had an exterior wall. I’m also not sure how “underground” it was. This brought back many negative memories of waiting forever in school tornado experiences, and I had no interest in submitting to the librarian’s anal “by the book” routine for hours (we didn’t know when the storms would end) so I decided to leave and Wendi acquiesced.
[quote]We went to my house, without power or internet, to ride out the storms. My house is built on the side of the hill, and the lowest level’s wall is part of a concrete retaining wall mostly underground. However, the other 3 sides are above ground. The most interior room is about 20 ft from the outside and construction of the building is normal wood building materials. We used my cell phone for internet and was able to keep tabs on the tornado’s path via instant message with my best friend who was watching the live internet feed. Eventually it became clear the tornado was heading north of us, and we were going to be ok… at least for this storm. It ended up that no more storms that night targeted my area so we had peace and quiet amongst several candles.
After checking out the destruction of the Tuscaloosa tornado, I then later started comparing the safety of the library with the safety of the house. It seems pretty clear to me that if that tornado had headed straight for us, our house would also be a pile of rubble. I think we probably would have survived in that room, but I’m no longer doubt free, and it’s pretty likely, we’d have significant injuries. However, the library’s construction is definitely more solid and would probably be able to survive the tornado better, especially if most of that room was underground plus if it were a truly interior room.
That has led me to rethink my decision to leave. I did it because of unwillingness to submit, but looking back, that unwillingness could have cost me and my girlfriend our lives. What if enduring those librarians and those conditions was the only way to survive? Would I do it? Of course I would… and I’d be thankful to God the entire time!
That makes me think about salvation and how easy it is to let my annoyance and frustration with the church and leadership boil upward. I must continue to grow in submission. My life and others lives (here and beyond) may depend on it.