The Northridge quake was in 1994. Up until then I hadn't felt anything bigger than a 4.something. Now that I look at that wikipedia page, that quake was only 10-20 seconds long and was a 6.7... nothing like what Japan experienced. But it did a lot of damage, nonetheless. And scary... boy, was it scary.
I've been on the east coast for 3 years. We've had warnings and watches and lighting and wind... lots of "extreme" weather, but nothing major. I've sort of adopted the locals' attitude regarding weather events... stock up on basics, ice and beer... lots of beer!
But this time... it was different. The local news mentioned that a big storm was coming our way on Saturday. This storm had left a wake of destruction in its path and there were lots of tornadoes but... err... Sunday... Sunday is going to be sunny and breezy and AWESOME! We can't wait for Sunday! End of story.
Our usual pre-storm visit to the grocery store was the least stressful pre-storm visit I'd ever had. The last time (can't even remember when that was!) I ran into our old neighbors at the Trader Joe's and we joked about the lines and how freaked out everyone was. Nothing happened that time. Or the time before, or the time before...
I was sensing a pattern here...
Saturday morning... woke up late, turned on the weather channel. Storms were heading our way.
My friend, new to North Carolina, texted me and said she was a bit scared. I told her it was nothing to worry about. We chatted on the phone, she hung up because the storm was getting really hairy and she has a 19 month old to take care of. She's 2 hours west of us. It passed her, and didn't really do anything but be ominous and loud. Phew... she's okay.
It's heading our way now...
The weather channel reported that a tornado touched down in Sanford, which is south and west of us. gulp. The friendly weather channel meteorologist, who kept boasting that he had studied under Ted Fujita, who came up with the Fujita scale for rating tornado intensity, said... "this doesn't look good... it looks like this tornado is going straight for downtown Raleigh". He looked scared... or at least a wee bit dismayed.
Yes, it felt like a John Woo movie, find a few doves to release. Yes, deep down I knew we would be okay... but... this was new to me... and all I knew was that tornadoes generally move in a north-east direction, drop houses on bad witches and if it decided to skip up and say hello to us, we were really close. I sort of freaked out (it's in my nature) and started dragging photo albums into the basement.
Here's a map of the path of the tornadoes that came to visit yesterday. I took the liberty of marking where we live...
So, it all missed us. One of our neighbors sat on his deck all day and admired the storm with his two little dogs, some other neighbors ran errands and checked the tornado path on their phones, and just went about their day.
Meanwhile, I was hoarding bottles of water and clutching a blankie while flipping through news channels. Crank flashlight to the left of me, passports and birth certificates to the right (don't ask).
After all was said and done... we were all fine. Just really shaken up.
We decided to drive to the area around our old neighborhood, near Holly Springs, and check it out. We saw some debris, trees that had been snapped... minor damage... but then it got worse and worse. We decided not to drive into any of the subdivisions and be lookie-loos when everyone was so clearly trying to clean up.
Instead, we drove south to Sanford, to check out the Lowes Hardware that had been hit hard. We didn't know we what we were going to see along the way...
Our pictures don't show even .1% of the damage we've seen on the news and online. You should see the aerial shots of the path of the tornado in Sanford (news link below).
The locals were busy cutting down trees and cleaning up. Mostly all smiles, which was surprising... and really cool.
If you'd like to read more, here's a link to our local news station (that went OFF the air in the middle of their broadcast because the tornado was heading straight for them! To turn to your trusty local news and see a blank, bright yellow screen... sort of eerie! Not like our dedicated NBC news crew in 1994(see below))
When all the storms were winding down, the meteorologist at the Weather Channel reminded us that... "well, Sunday is still going to be gorgeous and AWESOME while you are out there cleaning up the debris with your chainsaws and whatnot!". Yep.
Again, more respect for Mother Nature. We are so lucky. And our thoughts and prayers go out to those who didn't fare so well.
Here's a little Letterman to lighten the mood ;)