Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Twister Tales

Aftermath of the Tornado that hit Pryor Creek ...

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The rash of earthquakes and the tornado (or two) Okie-Land had a few weeks ago brought comments from people in other states. “I’d rather deal with an earthquake than a tornado.”

Really? At least, in a tornado if you have warning, there are places you can go where you’re safe.

Of course, we don’t like them.  We’d give all our twisters to a sister state, if she’d take them. (Hey, Kansas? How about you?)

But until Big K steps up to take the killer twirls from us, we’re stuck with them.

Tornadoes and their warnings are dark shadows in most Okies’ memories. One of my first was the night of the circus that the Williams family went to with our fam. You can read about it here.

Another time, the warning siren woke us in the middle of the night. Mom sort of panicked, which gave at least one of my sisters a real fear of storms. Even thunder storms give her the jitters.

(I kind of enjoy them as long as I’m not driving.)

The spring after my middle son was born, we lived in a house about a mile west of C-Town. Because north-east Oklahoma has a high water table, and that makes it hard to have a cellar or basement that doesn’t have a foot or two of water in it, I’ve never owned a hidey-hole. That spring, I was sorry I didn’t have one.

It seems that every week, I got a phone call from one of my sibs, telling me the siren was blowing. The entryway of my house, where the stairway was, had several large windows on both sides. I didn’t want to navigate those stairs with glass crashing all around and a five-year-old as well as an infant in tow, so we’d sleep in the family room, right next to the under-the-stairs closet. (We figured it was the safest place in the house.)

A tornado cut a swath next to highway 412 near C-Town once. It started somewhere to the west of where I live right now, and plowed a path through the trees and houses built around the lake.

One family, who’d all built houses near each other, had a cellar they shared. While the twister damaged their homes, they were snug and safe underground–until a car got rolled on top of their cellar and the gasoline inside it drain into the cellar with them.

They were lucky enough that nothing sparked and set off the fumes.

Just about every house on the block where I live now was damaged or destroyed by that same tornado. When things cleared, my mom and dad loaded up their car with things people might be able to use and drove to the lake to help their neighbors clean up and dig out.

Like the good Samaritan, we learn being able to give is much more blessed than needing to receive, don’t we?

So what do Okies do when a tornado heads our way? Most of us go for cover and prayer. Emphasis on prayer.


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Sunday Morning–Earthquake!

Wednesday, when I set up this post to run this morning, I had no idea that Oklahoma would have two (2!) earthquakes in the previous twenty-four hours. For an Okie, that’s a bunch!

I blamed the first quake on the dog, who normally sleeps under our bed. I’d forgotten that she’d been too lazy to get up the stairs when I’d gone to bed the night before. But the second one happened as G-Man and I were getting ready for bed.

It sounded like thunder and our house rocked for a long, LONG time. (Maybe twenty seconds.) When it started, I scurried to a doorway. I think I read somewhere doorways are the safest place to stand during a quake. But then I realized that, since we were upstairs, the doorway’s floor would probably drop out from under me, leaving a gap where I’d been, if it was really a baddie.

*Sigh* So much for fast thinking. 🙂

I’ve never lived in California or anyplace that regularly has earthquakes, but I saw the movie EARTHQUAKE! when it came out. There were big gaps in the ground in that movie. So I have to wonder if this might be a small Weird God Thing. Or maybe God just wanted to wow me.

When I saw how it came together, I really did say, “WOW!” and, “Thank you, Jesus.”

If you were in the quake zone, what did you do/think/feel when it happened?


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Twister!

F5 damage example

Image via Wikipedia

Where were you May 3, 1999?

Do you remember the day? Most Okies do. That’s the day sixty-six tornadoes killed 36 people (36 according to News on 6 this morning, and 44 people according to other sources) and destroyed 2300 homes. And one of those cyclones was an F5–some of the fastest winds ever recorded on earth–261-318 mph!

An F5 causes strong frame houses to be lifted off foundations and carried considerable distances to disintegrate; automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 meters; trees are debarked; steel re-inforced concrete structures are badly damaged.

G-Man and I were in the big city on that May 3rd. As we listened to the radio, we kept hearing about the tornadoes hitting our state, and I couldn’t help but think about the people I know in those towns. So many of the writers I’ve met over the years at the Oklahoma Writers Federation conference were from that area or close by.

How many of them would lose their homes? Their belongings? Their lives?  

Lots of people prayed hard that day. I know I stayed at it for most of the afternoon and evening, petitioning for people I knew and those I didn’t.

Remember that old saying, “There are no atheists in fox holes?” I have a feeling the same goes for tornado shelters–what ever, when ever and where ever they might be.  

Very easy Movie quote.

“Is there an F5?”
[Everyone goes dead silent]
“What would that be like?”
“The Finger of God.”

Can you name it?