On Monday mornning, August 27, 2012, Tropical Storm Isaac passed over Key West, enroute to the Gulf of Mexico and classification as a hurricane. During this journey, a rainband detached from her easternmost edge, and stayed for hours over Vero Beach, dumping a foot of rain.
What happened next threw me for a loop:
Twilight descended at 10am and deepened along with thunder unlike anything I’d EVER heard sonorous and rumbling, a persistant drone beneath gusty winds and rain that fell like sheets along a diagonal line. If this sounds intense and dramatic it’s meant to…it was a scary, over-the-top kind of storm. We’d been under a tornado watch since the previous late evening, which the Weather Service upgraded to “warning” between 9-11am…standard procedure during tropical storms. Typically nothing happens…typically the sky doesn’t turn green!
Unlike northern construction, southern homes are built without cellars–(we’re too close to aquifers here,) so I decided my walk-in closet was the safest place to shelter. I grabbed Clarisse and hid, relieved I could still hear the local weather alerts from inside.
My blood ran cold when I heard this:
Within minutes, they updated the tornado’s location….my mother’s manufactured home park!!! More than 30 houses had been demolished, and I could NOT reach her by telephone!
The phone and power lines were down, so I was unable to connect despite repeatedly dialing. An hour ticked by, and part of the next…I kept thinking surely she’ll call (somehow) to say she’s ok! Why isn’t she using her cell phone?! I admit I was getting increasingly panicked. It’s atypical for her to turn on her mobile, but I called it anyway..worst case scenario, I’d at least leave a message.
She answered!!!! I sobbed hysterically, “I thought you were DEAD!!! For over an hour!! I thought you were dead!!”
She had been at the Doctor’s and had NO idea anything was amiss, until arriving at her next stop (the bank) where everyone buzzed about the tornado. Then SHE panicked, afraid her house might lie among the wreckage.
It did not!!!
In the annals of tornado history, ours will be listed as an F0-1, meaning windforce was somewhere around 85-100 mph. It wasn’t on the ground for very long, either: in less than 2 minutes it traveled 1.46 miles, damaged 102 structures, including 30 on my mother’s street.
Given the extent of the damage, I’m amazed NOBODY was injured, or worse….but I’m especially RELIEVED the woman affectionately known to our family as “The Old One” is alive and well!!! Phew!!!
Until next time……