Friday morning I was sitting at my desk at work when the tornado watch was issued. It turned into a warning as the day went on. And around 1:30 p.m., an F-4 tornado touched down in my town—Murfreesboro, Tenn.—killing two people, injuring 50, completely destroying 98 homes and damaging 450 more. Numerous businesses were damaged or ruined completely. The National Weather Service reports the path of the tornado extended 23 miles.
Because it was Good Friday, Ian had the day off and was at home. I was at work on West End in Nashville, freaking out with the other Rutherford Countian, who lives in Smyrna. As soon as the news channels started covering the tornadoes (there were four, maybe five, funnel clouds reported throughout the afternoon hours) heading toward Rutherford County, I called Ian to see what was going on at home. It was hailing and raining hard, and the sky was green. I kept asking him to make sure all the cats were downstairs and to get in the downstairs bathroom (our tornado safe spot) with them, but when the satellite TV went out he had to go upstairs to keep tabs on what the news was saying.
We were lucky. The tornado didn’t come near our house. Another smaller tornado (reported as an F-1) touched down a bit closer to our house, but we still didn’t have any damage. All of our friends and family members were safe, though a couple had some damage to their homes. But nothing like the devastation you see on the news.
I wanted to blog about this earlier, but I couldn’t make myself do it. As though talking about it would anger the earth and a vengeful tornado would rear its debris-sucking head on the south side of Murfreesboro right over my house. I don’t know… ever since my apartment building was damaged by a small tornado (or perhaps straight-line winds; the jury is still out on that one) back in 2003, I have had a pretty ridiculous (and probably irrational at times) fear of tornadoes.
This tornado was fucking huge. There is so much damage and devastation, and my heart hurts just thinking about what an incomprehensible mess those affected by it are dealing with. I can’t imagine what I would do if the tornado had come through my neighborhood as well—and at the advice of others, I’m trying to stop thinking about that. I can’t think about what I would do without Ian, without my cats, without my home. With all of my worldly possessions scattered about the area. Underwear in trees. Computers in others’ yards. Life as I know it undone.
But tornadoes are just random acts of nature’s vengeance, and in Tennessee you have to expect them and deal with them.
In the “holy shit” files, after I got home from work (surprisingly it only took me about an hour and a half to get home, though that was after leaving work at 3:00 p.m., which should have only taken me about 45 minutes) and Ian and I were watching the news coverage of the areas affected, we realized that the tornado damaged several of the areas in which we have been looking for houses: Blackman, Ravenwood, Regency Park, Sulphur Springs, Battleground, Compton Road/Penny Lane. So where before I was cursing this blasted economy, now I’m left silent and a bit stunned.
We were on the north end of town Saturday running some errands and drove down Thompson Lane so I could get some pictures of some of the damage. We couldn’t get into any of the damaged neighborhoods, but I didn’t want to anyway. It seemed too invasive. Sunday on our way home from Mt. Juliet we drove down Broad Street and saw more of the havoc wreaked on businesses. You can see all of my pictures of the aftermath here.
I still feel a bit odd. I know I should feel lucky, and for the most part I do.
But I’m not comfortable with leaving something this important, this horrendous, this potentially life-changing up to luck. And I think that’s what I’m having the most trouble with: No matter what I do or don’t do, I cannot control whether my home—my life—will be destroyed this way some day.
And I’m still not sure how to put that feeling into words. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to. I guess it’s just something I’ll keep pushing to the back of my mind, tucked away somewhere so remote that I only feel it when the wind kicks up and the sky turns the certain hue that only those who’ve been through this before know to fear.