Today’s WTF: Tornadoes in Texas

Today was a really bad day for the residents of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, thanks to a storm system which produced multiple tornadoes this afternoon. I’m sure y’all have seen the news by now. The images of truck trailers being lifted and thrown through the air have already shocked and astounded people around the country. There has been significant damage to the homes and businesses in the area, but there are no reports yet of any fatalities.

This is pretty incredible, for anyone who saw the footage of the storm in action. I find it particularly amazing, simply because the nature of tornadoes doesn’t always allow for people to protect themselves adequately. Tornadoes can spring up pretty suddenly – one minute they’re not there, and the next minute they are. This makes them one of the most devastating of Mother Nature’s creations.

Living in Florida, I know that tornadoes happen here all the time. However, I have never had the misfortune to experience a tornado myself. I am more used to dealing with hurricanes, and let me tell you, I will take a hurricane over a tornado any day of the week. That’s not to say that hurricanes are easy. A hurricane has the potential to do a lot of damage, as I have seen firsthand during my 40-plus years of living here. I have been affected by hurricanes several times, most recently in 2004, when both Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne struck my area within a few weeks of each other. And in 2005, we had a minor run-in with the infamous Katrina, though we were incredibly lucky in that instance, as I noted in a post from my old blog at that time:

The only thing that matters, right at this particular moment, is that I’m not underwater. Nor is my house, my street or my town. Living in Florida, as I do, you have these pesky things called “hurricanes” that blow through and knock the bejeezus outta things every once in a while. And last week, we got hit by one called Katrina. Well, “hit” is a strong word for what we got; that storm was only a Category 1 when it made landfall here, and it barely had the energy to bitch-slap us. I mean, I’ve lived here for a loooong time, and a Category 1 isn’t all that bad. I’ve gone running in worse weather. So you get some rain, some wind, a tree and a power line or two goes down…not the end of the world.

Fast forward one week. After it is finished annoying us, Katrina goes offshore and begins to grow. It grows a lot. And next thing you know, the bitch is a HUGE, Category 5 monster barreling towards Louisiana. I have been seeing all the reports and pictures coming out of that state since yesterday, and I cannot believe that the same storm that hit us last week managed to become so destructive. I am so grateful to have been spared, and I see how awful things are for so many people in and around the strike zone, and I just can’t tell you how relieved and awful I feel all at the same time. I saw Andrew’s aftermath right here in FL back in ’92, and it was horrific. I can only wish for the best for the victims of Katrina, because I know it is an immense struggle facing them now.

So, yeah, hurricanes are no walk in the park. But at least you have one major advantage with hurricanes: you can see ’em coming, and that makes all the difference in the world. Knowing they’re out there, and being able to track them, gives you an opportunity to gather supplies, prepare your property and find a safe place to weather out the storm. This is not the case with several other fairly common natural disasters, like earthquakes, mudslides and tsunamis, which can happen so quickly that there is no time to defend yourself against them. And tornadoes are often the same type of thing.

I am amazed that no deaths have been reported yet in today’s tornadoes, and I hope that remains true going forward. But I know many people’s lives were devastated nonetheless, with homes and property being flattened and torn apart by the ravaging winds. Power and water services have been interrupted for a great many people as well. This is a day which will take a great deal of time and effort to recover from, and I am keeping the victims of these storms in my thoughts as they begin to pick up the pieces of their communities and their lives.

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