Living is strife and torment, disappointment and love and sacrifice, golden sunsets and black storm. —Laurence Olivier
Skies above were clear and the air was humid as I stepped out the door to take the dog on his early morning walk. The last of the rain moved out around 3:00 AM. Computer models aren’t predicting any new storms for today, but WTHR’s Chuck Lofton isn’t convinced. Conditions this morning are too similar to yesterday morning. As the dog and I make the last turn toward home, I see lightning to the North.
Yesterday wasn’t a pleasant weather day for anyone in central Indiana. The first siren sounded here shortly after 3:00 PM. By that time, a Starbucks up in Kokomo (about a 90-minute drive North) had already been flattened by an F3 tornado. I grabbed my hat and phone and headed outside. A neighbor met me on the corner and we watched one lightning strike after another.
“You don’t think that’s headed this way, do you?” he asked, the worry showing on his face. Yesterday was his birthday and he wasn’t having a good one.
“No,” I answered. “But it’s too close for comfort. That’s hitting right around 38th street. Just about where the kids’ school is.”
The lightning passed, then came the bulk of the storm. Clouds and wind shifted direction repeatedly. We never saw a funnel. We wouldn’t have in all that rain. The system moved on East and caused more trouble in the central and Eastern parts of town. Only two twisters have been confirmed, but there were many more funnels spotted. Buildings damaged. Power out. Children scared as they hunkered down at school. Not a fun day to be in Indiana.
It’s Not Always Like This
Tornado sirens went off five different times yesterday afternoon, prompting my 18-year-old, who just moved up here, to ask whether the weather was like this all the time. This is the second time since he’s been here that sirens have sounded. This isn’t what we might consider traditional Indiana weather, especially for this time of year. Research out of Purdue University in Lafayette suggests that warmer temperatures might be pushing “tornado alley” into the state. Days like yesterday may become the new normal for Indiana.
When a storm like this hits an area, everyone is momentarily jarred. Weather is one of those areas in life over which we have absolutely no control. When the weather starts getting nasty, our senses revert to an inherent sense of fear. We instinctually recognize the danger. Our blood pressure increases to facilitate a run to cover. Our ears go on high alert, listening for the approaching storm. Eyes become more focused, even to the point of increasing our ability to see in the dark. As the storm passes, we exhale, feel a sense of relief in still being alive. We survived another one. Yay us.
Storms like yesterday are small, though. Just ask anyone in Louisiana who is still wading through several feet of water, unable to return to their homes. No one totally escapes the storms that life throws at us. As frightening as yesterday might have been for some, those storms were light compared to what others are enduring.
A Death Toll Rises
Earthquakes hit central Italy last week, completely leveling many ancient towns. At first, the death toll seemed moderate. I think the first report I saw listed 14 casualties. When I went to bed last night, the count was at 159. This morning, the death toll sits at 247 and climbing. Strong aftershocks continue, making rescues dangerous. The storms we endure are not always those associated with weather. They come at us from many different directions and many different forms. Compared to what is still happening in Italy, yesterday’s dance with tornadoes was a walk in the park.
In the Italian city of Amatrice, one of the worst-hit towns, a small hotel with 70 guests collapsed. Only seven bodies have been recovered so far. In Pescara del Tronto, rescuers were finally able to get to a 10-year-old girl who had lain in rubble for 17 hours. Over in Accumoli, however, two little boys, ages 8 months and 9 years, were buried along with their parents when their house fell in on them. Stories like these are repeated over and over and over across central Italy to the point one risks becoming numb to the tragedy. This storm was just as unexpected as yesterday’s tornadoes. No one could have predicted this.
Yet, to not expect storms in life is foolish. I sometimes think that we should teach storm survival skills as a course in high school. Students would learn skills to help them survive not only tornadoes, but earthquakes, floods, mudslides, volcanic activity and other forms of displacement and upheaval. Fire is an inevitability for everyone. Storms are inevitable. So, why are we not better equipped, both emotionally and tactically, to hand them?
Since life’s storms are so inevitable, not only do we need to be prepared to handle the ones that directly affect us, but we also have a responsibility to respond to the tragedy of storms that displace others. Locally, the American Red Cross is leading efforts to assist those most directly impacted by yesterday’s storms. If you want to help, you can click here to give. Around the world, there are appropriate agencies to which one can give as to participate in providing relief to all the manners of storms that disable people around the world. Those who survive have a responsibility to humanity to step up and provide assistance.
Sometimes, though, storms are ongoing. Some of the most devastating events are not natural disasters but those initiated by the insanity of war and economic disasters. Refugees continue to pour from Syria and other war-torn countries. Their storm seems never ending. While it’s easy enough to sit here and say, “I feel sorry for those people,” what they really need is a more hands-on approach, people willing to volunteer on the ground in the places where refugees land and the places they wait.
Milana Vayntrub is probably best known to most of us as Lily from the AT&T commercials. She was vacationing in Greece earlier this year when she learned about the severity of the refugee situation there. Being a refugee herself, she felt compassion and took the steps to do something. She then used her phone to create a documentary about the situation. The portion here is 13 minutes. Please, take a moment to watch.
More Storms Coming
Some storms can be forecasted. Many others can’t. What we do know is that more storms are coming, both here in Indiana and around the world. With each storm, there are people adversely affected. We hope to not become victims ourselves. Where we don’t, however, we have an obligation to help those who are, not just here, but around the world.