|March 29, 2011. The sirens were sounding as I took it.
I cannot count the number of times I have heard the tornado sirens go off in my town.
Nor can I count the number I times I have groaned and rolled back over in my bed. Or run outside to watch the storm come in.
I live in Louisiana. We don't have tornadoes. We have hurricanes that sometimes spawn tornadoes. That's what happened when Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992. A tornado ripped through LaPlace and Reserve, killing two people.
And occasionally we have those straight line wind things that tear roofs off of sheds and scare the bejeezus out of people but the weather people later say, no, it wasn't a tornado.
And I do live almost within a stone's throw of an oil refinery. And a chemical plant. And a nuclear power plant. And a very swollen Mississippi River. And a wide-open (at the moment) flood control system.
So when the sirens go off in the middle of the night, we don't always run downstairs and hide in the bathtub with a mattress over our head. Sometimes we are told to shut off the air conditioner and close all the windows.
We turn on the TV to see what's going on. We tune to the Weather Channel to see how bad the weather really is and if it's heading our way. If the big red blotch on the screen is big enough, then we'll head downstairs and huddle in the hallway until it passes.
But we don't head to the basement. Remember, I live in Louisiana. We don't have basements.
But after the last week or so, I'm ready to dig one.
Tornadoes are everywhere. Tuscaloosa. Joplin, Missouri. Oklahoma City. And yes, even in Louisiana. My friends in Monroe spent a terror-filled night not long ago. Some in Shreveport might lose sleep later tonight.
Then there's that whole Warrior Dash thing....
And, as I type this, I'm watching a re-run of Anderson Cooper in Missouri, as he tells tale after tale of people who died in the killer storm.
And those who have simply vanished.
The baby sucked out of his mother's arms. The teenager. The mom who was picking up food for her son's graduation party and disappeared. The just-graduated boy who was sucked out of the sunroof of his car, his father trying to hold on for dear life. The 1,500 others who have not been found.
They could be anywhere. Literally.
I pray for them all.
And even though I live in Louisiana, and even though I have no basement to run to for safety, I won't roll over anymore.