I can still remember those storms. The old timers could be seen standing beneath the clouds that were moving quickly across the sky. They waited and they watched and they watched for the clouds to begin rotating.
This was my early warning that something was "up" or about to happen. The tornadoes were gathering and soon we would be looking for a storm cellar.
Hollis Oklahoma was right smack dab in the path of what was called Tornado Alley. From Wichita Falls, Texas the winds began and moved quickly toward Hollis. I never cared where they went after they decimated Hollis. We were too busy picking up the pieces left behind.
The sirens in the middle of the night and the sound of metal flung through the air as the winds whipped with a long tail what was even remotely close to it's center was something that stays with me some 30 years later. I need more warning then that siren.
Here we have hurricanes which are kind enough to give us a two week warning.
We pack our valuables and leave...or stay. It's a choice we get to make.
Living in Hollis that year found me in a storm cellar with dirt floors and and a naked lightbulb hanging from the ceiling at least twice a week. Benches surround the walls and I usually didn't know anyone there except April (the daughter). The hatch door led to steep steps that got us beneath ground. I don't remember ever going into a basement there. Maybe I just didn't know anyone with a basement. I did make it a point to know where the many storm cellars were located around town.
When the siren went off, we would bail out of the car and dash for the nearest one. Fun times in Oklahoma. There are five reasons I have for never living there again. The tarantulas were huge, black widow spiders everywhere, huge rattlesnakes, scorpions and of course those huge gusts of wind we called tornadoes.
A year passes and we move from Hollis and as I did many times while there, I wondered how the natives could keep rebuilding their homes and keep replanting their crops knowing that it all could be wiped out in a matter of minutes. Tenacious. Hopeful. They never entertained the thought of moving away. I didn't feel the same way and I was gone when the job there ended.
I've watched today as more then 50 tornadoes moved across Alabama, Kentucky, Illinois and Tennessee. One after another they marched along destroying everything in their path. The storms continue tonight moving into Ohio and West Virginia. I don't envy these people their evening of unrest.
Find a basement and sleep there tonight. Be safe. I'm going to turn off the weather channel. It's time for me to take a break too.