Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hoarding and Tornado Preparedness

The people of the South grow up with a lot of things that are peculiar to this region – cornbread, fried chicken, mint juleps and tornadoes. Yes, tornadoes. We all know to “Take Cover Now” if the warnings come for our area. Most of the nation, with the exception of the Midwest, cannot comprehend the horrific power of a tornado – it’s just a windstorm, nothing big (I actually had a woman from New Jersey say that to me in the aftermath of last week’s storms). Yeah, explain that one to over a million North Alabama residents who endured one of the largest tornado outbreaks in nearly forty years (I was around for the last one too). But I was more prepared than I thought…

It all began last fall when I was doing my semi-annual DEEP housecleaning. In one section of cabinets in the laundry room my husband had stored his vast collection of flashlights. I always felt he had a problem with flashlights. If he saw a new kind, this one has a laser or that one has a light that bends, he HAD to have it. I always gave in because, after all, it was a harmless obsession. During the cleaning I told him he had to cut down on the flashlights, it was getting out of hand. He, as most men do their wives, ignored me. Those flashlights remained in the cabinets and drawers only to be taken out from time to time for him to change batteries. Which leads me to the next problem he has ---

Batteries – a necessary evil in this house because of his other obsessions. They occupy two drawers in the laundry room making them an anathema. Those were drawers I could have been using for storage of things like string, old scissors or other useless items. My husband keeps a various assortment of sizes. You never know when the remote would go out and need a new AA battery. I told him to consolidate and organize into one drawer. He ignored me, again.

I moved on in the cleaning to the garage. In the corner my husband kept his other hoard – generators. They needed to be moved, preferably to the tractor shed or the other garage. We generally use the generators for horse shows to provide lights and fans for the horses (no one ever said my horses broke a sweat). Hubby always is on the lookout for new generators. The latest one, a Honda, runs silent, no jarring engine noise to upset the horses (God forbid!) Again, he ignored me. Those generators were expensive and he didn’t want them to “walk” away from the farm. The garage is covered by the alarm system and Rusty (my mix breed who WILL take your leg off if you get in her garage). The generators stayed – only to be checked and run periodically when hubby had to get out of the house and away from my nagging.

Which leads me to his last obsession – electronics. If there is a new gadget out there, he will get it even if it has no utter use (in my opinion). When he got his new I-phone, he noticed a new little thingamajig that looked like a small black box with lights. A MiFi. It runs like a phone with its own cell number and acts like WiFi. You can have Internet anywhere there is cell service, for a charge of course. I wasn’t there when he got it or there would have been more nagging.

Fast forward in time to April 27, 2011 at 6:30 a.m. Hubby was off for the week (his birthday was Monday and he always takes off). We were watching the news when the weatherman said a tornado was headed to Arab. We gathered the pets and went to the basement. Then the weatherman said it was going south of town - all clear except for the incessant sound of the weather sirens and the Voice of God (my name for the loud voice telling you to “Take Cover Now”). I crept upstairs and was looking out the front door when all hell broke loose. The rain was coming down so hard I couldn’t see ten feet in front of me and the wind was whipping a large oak around like it was a pinwheel. I slammed the door and ran – we weren’t all clear. Just then the power went out – total darkness in the midst of a horrific storm. When it stopped I ran outside to check on the horse barn. All I could see was tin, wood and insulation lying all over the place. Without thinking I ran in the pouring rain to the barn to check on the babies. I leaped over the gate at the door. Silence and no damage. The horses, usually active and moving around, were frozen, not moving or making a peep. My husband, who had followed me in the truck, came in and said it was the neighbor’s barn. The tornado had picked up the barn, steel girders and four-by-fours, slamming it into my barn, my shed and, alas, our new horse trailer. BUT no animal was hurt. I didn’t care about the damage.

The rest of the day was filled with “Taking Cover Now” and running outside to check on things, most especially the babies who still were not moving much. The horses seemed to be in a tornado-induced coma. We had no power but we were safe, that was all that mattered. My hubby, an Eagle Scout, has always taken the motto “Be Prepared” to heart. He went into disaster mode. Get the generators out and started. Haul out the flashlights and lamps. Check on the neighbors. We did all that then sat down at nearly 10:00 that night, exhausted and worried about our friends. We had lights, ice and a landline. We were okay. Sitting there to the hum of two generators, I looked around the kitchen where flashlights and batteries covered the counters. I kind of felt like the guy in “Signs” when he realized the real reason for all the water the little girl kept leaving around the house. There was a reason for my husband’s hoarding and we were living it. The next day we loaned out generators to keep freezers going, went to Oneonta to get ice and gas for the volunteers who were doing search and rescue and for our friends. Hubby even parted with a few of his prized flashlights. We had Internet thanks to the MiFi and I could check on distant friends and monitor the news. We were better off than most and for once I was thankful my husband had ignored me (only once you understand – you can’t have them getting too uppity).

So I guess the moral of this story is – don’t fuss when your husband or wife has a penchant for hoarding. Sometimes it works out best for everyone.

Share your storm stories with us here under the Tulip Tree. There may be something you learned which would keep me from fussing at hubby when he starts hoarding some new thing (he has his eye on one of those free-standing ice makers he saw in the Herrington Catalogue…God Forbid!)


  1. Cheryl, so glad you, your family, home and horses are okay. All that devastation just boggles the mind.

  2. Testing to see if I can comment.

  3. I am sooo glad that you and all of yours are safe. I think you are very lucky that your husband is always on the look out for ways to keep your life running smoothly. :-)

    I still don't have internet at home but do have power. My story probably is that I slept through the damage on my block! :-)

  4. Thanks Trish. Every time I look across town at the foundations where houses used to stand or think of my friend who lost his barn and 14 horses or the family I knew who all died in the same house - it does just boggle my mind at the devastation wreaked in such a short space of time. I am truly very lucky!

    Stephanie, I am glad you have your power back, now for the Internet. The one thing I learned during all this was how much we do depend on electronics. I am seriously considering, after all this, making one day a week no internet and no cell phone day. I did not realize how much time these things consume until they didn't work.

  5. We were so lucky here. Though death and damage was all around us, my little corner of the world was pretty unscathed. While the power was off, I think I learned what cave women felt like. I felt the need to gather and take care of those around me--even the ones who didn't need it. I never felt any anxiety to speak of until it was all over and I had electricity again. How insane is that?

  6. We were very lucky, too. The nightmare missed us by about six miles, although we got the wind and rain and angry sky. But then we have been very blessed living where we do on the ridge in Eva (knock on wood).

    We had no power, but a neighbor shared a generator with us until we got one of our own(purchased from another neighbor who picked it up in Florence). I always have candles, because I love candlelight, and we had water and food enough (not as much as the Elders taught me, though). We even had our home phone for a few days until it went out. We finally got our power and phone back before Noon on Sunday.

    I must tell you that you can't be too prepared. Rest assured, I will be far more prepared than before. Even if we don't suffer a devastation like this again, I will feel much better knowing we are prepared for anything. Keep stockpiling those batteries and flashlights, those candles and canned goods, those generators and gasoline and camp stoves. Keep it all on hand, no matter what.

    I'm so glad to know all of you are safe and sound. You are all so dear to me!

  7. You forgot to mention my phone call when you were standing outside looking at the sky, girl, and the big one was on its way. ;)

    I'm so glad you and your hubby, plus beloved animals are all okay! And kudos to your hubby for being prepared. I'm married to a Tennessee mountain man/former soldier. We're always prepared here, though we still haven't bought the generator I keep insisting we purchase. Maybe now, huh?

  8. Yes, we have flashlights here and batteries and lots of candles. Our iPhones were sporadic at best, but we survived. We don't have a generator, but our neighbor let us use his freezer cause he had one. I saved a lot of meat.

    I made a huge list of all the stuff we need to buy and store before the next storms. I want a real tornado shelter, but for now I'll continue to hide out in the interior bathroom.

    I'm glad we are okay. I'm still processing the amount of storms we had. 7 tornadoes flew the direct line over Madison. I saw two funnel clouds form above my house after the power went out. I saw a huge tornado coming my way.

    Very scary day. I'm so grateful you are all okay!!!