Arkadelphia, Arkansas (March 1, 1997)
National Weather Service:
I am not one of those people who will stand at a window and marvel at the majesty of God or the power of nature during a thunderstorm. Oh, no… not me. Au contraire. I hate the things. No, “hate” is not too strong a word for how I feel. I really, truly loathe them… and I fear them. Greatly. Then again, growing up they were not much of an issue.
Oh, everyone has seen footage of storm front rolling over the Serengeti. We had some pretty impressive storms but tornadoes were never a threat. Hurricanes were never a threat. Earthquakes? Sure. My high school sat on the edge of a massive fault line and within sight of two volcanoes. Truthfully, I never gave that reality much thought. “It is what it is.” was my feeling on the matter. I know. My attitude was all very Kenyan… Hakuna Matata. (Yes, it’s a real phrase. It was not coined by The Lion King writers. Disney gets no royalties for that one.)
The storms that ravage this part of the USA, especially in the spring months, are bloody insane.
One week ago, on April 19, 2011, it began to storm. Violently. There has been a little calm here and there… mornings of eerie quiet warmth as the humidity climbed higher and higher eventually reaching a breaking point amid ideal storm conditions. Tornado warnings have been prevalent. We have been forced to seek shelter more than once. Over and over again I have piled myself, a teenager, an 11-year old and a dog into a closet (a sizeable one) and we have waited.
We have been safe. For this, we are truly grateful. Others (Prayers, this eve, for the small town of Vilonia, AR.) have not been so lucky.
I am weary.
I am also wary… with good reason. I remember.
Most people laugh or chuckle when I tell them I live in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. The name amuses them. I get it. There was a day, however… when most of the country (USA) heard of Arkadelphia. On March 1, 1997 Arkadelphia was almost obliterated by an immense F4 tornado. I was here. Well, I lived here at the time. That particular day my then husband and then 2 year old child where visiting my parents in Little Rock, Arkansas at a home they were living in for just a couple months between retiring from missionary service in Kenya and going to work at the corporate headquarters, International Mission Board, in Richmond, VA. We were away from Arkadelphia but we weren’t exactly safe. Word that Arkadelphia took a direct hit reached us just as the sirens began to blare. That other F4 tornado on the map? The one in Little Rock? It hit mere blocks from our location… taking out homes and businesses. What was supposed to be an afternoon visit with my parents turned into a three day stay. Arkadelphia was cut off. Only emergency personnel were allowed into the area. The town was on every major news channel in the country.
We were safe. Family was safe. For that we were truly grateful. Again, others were not so lucky.
It is predicted that tonight will bring a “significant threat” for developing tornados. Storm number one developed on top of us around 3:30pm. It has been eerily calm since. I now hear thunder.The closet has been stocked with water, blankets, flashlights, batteries, etc.
We are as prepared as we can be. For this home we are grateful. We hope we are lucky… again.
“After every storm the sun will smile; for every problem there is a solution, and the soul's indefeasible duty is to be of good cheer.” ~William R. Alger