Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Bouncebackability (06/05/14)
- TITLE: One in One hundred Trillion Odds
By Phillip Cimei
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“It's ripe for some bad storms, Auntie,” said Betty, trying to mask the anxious feeling that was erupting in her gut.”
“Don't you worry Missy, we've got old faithful over there,” reassured Nancy. She was referring to the weather beaten storm shelter that laughed at the F5 tornado of 1999. Those record setting 316 mph winds destroyed her home, but only tempered her resilience and her faith in God. She rebuilt her home and made sure her porch faced west. That is were most storms formed.
Nancy was only 80 then. A novice at tackling a tornado. But, now at 94 she has the dauntless spirit of Pecos Bill, ready to lasso any snarly storm and ride it to its end.
“BEEEEP... BEEEP,” came the warning from her weather radio, stationed conspicuously in the living room. “The National Weather Service has issued...” came the words every Oklahoman is familiar with, especially Nancy.
It was mid-afternoon and the warm gulf air had collided with the cold arctic air moving down from the north. That is why they call this area tornado alley. When fire meets gasoline expect an explosion.
Nancy and Betty went to the living room. The television, already on, displayed a red, yellow, and purple covered map. It didn't look good for Moore.
“Oh, dear Jesus,” called out Betty as storm chasers, Justin and Chance, started sending in video.
A rope, as they referred to the beginning stage of a tornado, had formed at the base of the ominous black wall cloud west of Nancy's home. It immediately turned into a much larger and potentially devastating stovepipe shape.
“Damon, it's picking up debris. It is a violent tornado … oh no … it just hit a house. It crossed hi-way 37 and is gaining in strength,” came the call from the spotter, “it is growing in intensity and...it just missed the...Damon ...Damon people in Moore need to seek shelter under ground.”
The weather man put out the call, “This is a tornado emergency...a tornado emergency...this is higher than a tornado warning.” The fear in his voice accentuated the word emergency.
The tornado was picking up speed. The flashes of blown transformers speckled the monstrous black cloud as it moved toward Moore.
“Damon, this has turned into an F5 tornado...oh no...I just witness two cars being picked up and tossed off the Canadian River bridge.”
Nancy grabbed a yellow rain coat and headed for the door. Cars threw gravel as they sped into her drive-way. Doors flung open. The winds were picking up and the sky was a mass of swirling clouds.
Betty lifted the cellar door. Nancy, slowly approached the cellar, her feeble body bent with age was now reeling in the wind. Steadied by her many neighbors and friends, Nancy was escorted to her safe haven.
They could look up through the vent pipe and see the swirling clouds, slow at first then faster and louder. Flashes of debris preceded the increasing howling of the storm. The roar became so loud that they couldn't even hear the screams of the children. The ground shook as if Godzilla was approaching their shelter.
Wooosh, Wooosh, Woosh! Then silence
The hungry beast was full and had moved on. Nancy and her neighbors slowly opened the cellar door.
“Oh my God...Oh my God,” came the screams. “Why again...Nancy I am so sorry...Oh Jesus give us strength.”
It looked like they had been thrown into the middle of a land fill. Homes blown off their foundations, massive trees now mangled twigs. Helpless children swallowed up by this ravenous monster. Lives changed forever.
Reporters swarmed Nancy during the clean up.
“Nancy the odds are one in 100 trillion, according to Weather Decision Technologies, of an f5 tornado destroying the same house twice. How are you doing.
“I'll build again,” she said without hesitation, “right now my heart aches for those devastated families that suffered greater loss than I will ever experience.”
It has been a year now. Nancy, again, sits on a new porch—still facing west— with her niece, sips on a cup of coffee, turns to her niece, and says, “Wonder what the odds are on three?”
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