|Safety crouch for tornadoes|
I am a big fan of disaster preparedness and it largely came from my own experiences going through a category 5 hurricane in Pensacola Florida, which is why my good friend, Matt Runkle interviewed me for his series The Business of Staying Alive on his blog. To correspond with that chat I wanted to talk about hanging - disaster.
One of my favorite moments in disaster hanging was during school in the seventh grade while waiting for tornado sirens to sound at which point we were all trained to run quickly to the hallways to get into our safe positions. In the interim some genius on the staff thought it was a good moment for us to all watch Romeo and Juliet (1968). Nothing will make a bunch of twelve year olds hornier than watching a tale of teenage rebellion in love and lust while awaiting their impending death by high speed winds. My 7th grade boy friend at the time, held my hand through out the whole movie and our palms made a sweaty ass mess with the anxiety we were feeling and because it was really muggy and hot. I think they would turn off the AC every time a tornado was on its way and let me tell you in a school full of pubescence turning off the AC is no joke! I mostly remember just fantasizing about my future in banging it out like the protagonists in the movie but the boyfriend was clearly operating on a much deeper emotional level. At the end of the movie he turned to me very somberly and staring dead into my face said, "Tina-I need you to know right now that I love you". I think I smirked at his vulnerability, laughed a little and said "alrighty" which is not too far off from how I react when someone tells me they love me now, because I think they are drunk, lying or just confused. The tornado came and while we had all enjoyed the day of no work - when the sirens finally sounded the halls were eerily quiet as we crouched against the walls, listening to each other's breathing and the truly train like sounds of the tornado.
Flash forward about twelve years to me waiting out Hurricane Ivan in Pensacola, with me and my roommates cuddled up into the hallway that ran the center of our house with a mattress blocking the entrance to guard us against any flying debris if it should come down to it. My boyfriend at the time was not trying to convey to me how much he loved me in case of death but rather kept begging me to shut up with the jokes already so that he could sleep out the hurricane. Fair enough. But my roommate Paul and I were engrossed in the play by play hurricane being broad casted on the radio and for some reason thought the reports scary yet slightly hilarious and spent most the night giggling in a corner. With our battery powered radio, some water and a few snacks we waited out the night. Besides a torn awning our house survived the storm really well. I can't say the same for my neighbors, one of which had completely lost their roof. The news focuses on storms as if it is this isolated moment in time where everything exists after the storm the way it was before but that is never the case, things always change. The weeks after the storm was eye opening in how the world truly exists when you and your neighbors are meeting up every day at the back of an army truck to receive rations of food and water. Much of the time everyone spent the few weeks after Hurricane Ivan with no water and electricity, centered around helping out neighbors and friends with any clean up they needed and the sharing of supplies so everyone was getting by comfortably enough. The punk owned and run coffee shop I worked at at the time stayed open largely due to the dedication of my good friend Scotty. There was enough amenities to pull off making coffee and he dutifully sat out in front of the coffee shop for days dispersing cups of joe for donation. His effort in creating a sense of normalcy in a tumultuous moment I thought sacred and was much appreciated by neighbors and passers by, as a place to stop, share stories and offer support.
So the rules, the rules. Like in all moments in life where you can anticipate stress try to remember
1) It's not that serious- you will make it through. Humor is invaluable. 2) Don't get dramatic, let's keep it together no? There is going to be a lot of work to do after the storm. 3) But also take care of yourself and run through any emotions you're having, they are legit. 4) Like any other time period in your life, take time to relax and enjoy the company of your friends and yourself.
Here is the Center for Disease Control's web page on disaster preparedness , don't let it make you crazy, just let it make you aware.