Sunday, April 17, 2011

Direct Hit or Why I should have gone with Plan C

The bottom line is everyone is ok and save a blown out screened in panel on my porch and lots of sticks in the yard our house was unscathed. Ben and I were very, very lucky during Saturday’s tornado.

This is a long (ok longer than even normal for me, but after a couple of edits I feel compelled to just post it. Read on for how after finally beating 2 weeks of poison ivy, sickness from all 4 of us, I had the best week ever ending in a tornado.)
This is a story of “more moments of (not) great parenting along with I have a major character flaw of snap judgments resulting in not thinking of consequences.”

So to back up mid week I knew that a bad storm was going to hit likely Sat afternoon. We had some plans that started to shift including getting together with friends who have moved to NC from Tulsa.

After talking Friday night and checking the forecast they decided they would go ahead and come. It was the best weekend before their 2nd baby arrives in May and to quote my friend, “uh, we just moved here from Oklahoma, I can do bad weather”. The plan was to meet up with the friends in the am before the storms arrived so that all could get home. Plan B was to ride out bad weather in the museum if it hit with the worst of the storm. I live 20 mins from downtown and know this museum well so we moved ahead with Plans A and B.

I should have made a Plan C. Again, bottom line is that person and property all are ok and minus the lack of power that is expected until Tuesday we are good. Ben’s preschool took a direct hit hence the pictures of the fence and also the house next door to the school. We live about 2 miles from the school and again, minus debris no one had major damage in our neighborhood.

So here in order was the list of why I SHOULD have gone with plan C:

1. I was running a good 30 mins behind from the time I got up, got my hair cut, drove back to drop of Ian, finally found parking, met friends for brunch, got the museum. Not surprising that I am late. I am late everywhere I go no matter what I do to leave sooner. An extra kid has not helped.

2. I lost my watch last fall and have yet to replace. I keep my phone tucked in the bottom of my bag after losing it last summer so I continually ask everyone around me what time it is not to take it out over and over and risk losing it again. I also forget to charge my phone so it usually has little power. Sat was one of those days so I turned it off thinking I would just keep asking Amy what time it was and save my power for the drive home.

3. I should have checked for downtown street closings. At least 2 major events were going on and all parking was gone anywhere close to the museum.

4. The museum was crowded with people on an ick Sat as well as coming in from the downtown events. Being they had never been to Raleigh/museum we wound up staying much later.

5. I kept checking out the weather from the window as my plan was to be home by 2 pm. I even asked a staffer what they do in case of a full on evacuation to shelter.

6. Thinking it was getting close to 2 we parted ways. The kids were crashing so we quickly said good bye and we left. I forgot to ask what time is on the way out and didn’t think to pull out my phone to check. (here is my best reason ever to buy at watch)

7. Get to the car after walking several extra blocks and realize it was not 2. It was 3 pm. I call Bill and get voicemail. Try him again, voicemail. Decide that he is likely asleep so all must me ok at the house. I didn’t think to turn on the radio or check my phone as realizing it’s late think just let’s go (NOTE this is my character flaw in all its glory, a snap decision without thinking or consequences.) I could give you lots of examples including getting poison ivy 3 times in 3 years, kids falling out of Bumbos. The list is endless and as a mom I’m frankly embarrassed that I can’t do better with this part of myself.

8. Start to drive out of downtown and since there are still lots of road closures have to take several detours, all good I know downtown. Only light rain and almost no wind as we get onto the beltline home.

9. When we get about 15 mins from home we hit heavier rain and now wind is starting to push my car into the other lane. I start thinking what businesses are on the next exit that we can get inside and by this point we would have to drive at least 5 more mins once off the exit to a grocery store. I am only one exit away from getting on the last road home so I again think just push it and get home, likely you are ahead of this storm. I later found out the storm was going close to 70 mph and was something like 50 miles wide!

10. I get off and head down the road towards my town as I’m getting closer its starts to look like nighttime as it was black outside and lighting is hitting all around us.

11. Thinking of every big building left on the way home I can’t think of anywhere closer than my own house by now and don’t want to be outside my car with Ben risking us getting hit by lighting. It was so close that there was no time between the struck and the thunder and I think we have to be safer in the car. I gun it and run a red light and pass through town. On the way a tree is blocking the main intersection.

12. I take side streets and avoid branches and huge limbs and see broken power poles/trees/debris everywhere.

13. We are home in the next 5 mins just as the sun is breaking through and the rain stops.
Lucky, damn lucky that I should have gone with my gut (and the Plan c) of getting out of the car and getting into any open business when my car was being blown by the wind. I also should have called Bill again but once home realize that all cell service was knocked out ahead of the storm. He had been trying to reach me to tell me to stay put and ride it out (plan B).

There are few things as scary as thinking how if I had been in that intersection about 10 mins earlier that we would have been directly in the path of the storm.
Yes to a really bad call and yes that I need to scribe to the weather warning on my phone. Yes that I need to buy a watch, yes that when I have a gut feeling I need to act on it. A big resounding YES that I need to work on the “think this through Heather” snap judgment mentality. When my kids’ safety is at stake there is nothing else that should be important.

No need to give me a big old “told you so” you can on what I’m sure will be the next bad snap judgment you see going down you can point out so please do. And maybe buy me a watch and remind me to plug in my phone.

Very glad to have put my kids to bed even in a dark house and to know we dodged a direct hit.


Goddess in Progress said...

TERRIFYING! I'm so, so glad that you're all OK.

Growing Up Disney said...

Thanks for getting out to spend time with us! Other than the running from a tornado, we had a great day in the triangle. I was totally just thinking it was going to be a bad thunderstorm in which case riding it out at the museum sounded like a great idea. My lesson learned was to check Weather Channel's app sooner. Hey, we have fancy phones, we should use them. It didn't occur to me until we saw building debris landing in front of us on the interstate. Thankfully, we were heading out of the storm. Again, so happy you and Ben are safe.

Anonymous said...

Scary stuff! Glad you are all okay.

Carrie77 said...

WOW, I have goosebumps from your post. I am terrified of tornadoes, and we get a lot of them in STL. I am so glad you are ok!!! I am not sure what I would have done in the same situation.

Beth said...

Glad you're okay. And I always underestimate the weather, so my line of thinking probably would have been the same as yours. Good reminder to take the weather seriously. Glad all is okay around you!

Gillian said...

scary - glad you all are safe.

Katrina said...

Holy MOLY!
Glad you guys are all safe - and YES YES YES - when it comes to weather (and almost all life experiences) TRUST YOUR GUT INSTINCT!

I can't imagine how scary that was - and you are so lucky! I heard about the weather here (DC / Balt) and what went through your area - swept right up to us! We got nothin' though, but parts of 95 and Virginia have lots of damage, I've heard. I think some tornadoes touched down in VA too. We got lots of wind and rain.

I can totally imagine the damage - your story hits home for me :) My parents had 2 tornadoes (1 big one formed and split) and it was about 3 summers ago; it was the first tornado EVER in my life that I know of - that actually touched down on my hometown street. My family (dad and I) are really big into storm chasing and the weather - this was unheard of. Ever. The tornado literally "jumped" over my mom and dad's house - and then took out the entire street about 3 blocks away - and then followed the river (the Heart River in ND) . I went home right after it happened - I have never seen such sadness and destruction. All the homes/trees/people that I grew up with - things that you remember forever as a child - GONE. There are no trees in our area - wiped out completely. An entire street that I used to play on - gone. Houses that were there forever - completely obliverated. Mother Nature can be so darn cruel - I am so glad you guys are all okay. Stuff like this can really smack you in the face with the reality of what's important - you know? And that voice inside yourself that you need to trust and listen to :)

So glad you're all safe!!!

Ms Mae said...

Glad you are all ok!

Memo to self - get a watch and app!!!