Last Week I Was In A Tornado

So last week, I pulled up to the City of Kawartha Lakes Public Library branch in Cambray, when the sky opened up and the rain started pounding. We'd been warned of the potential for thunderstorms, but no one was prepared for this. Thunderstorms tend to pass in a matter of minutes, so I waited in my car instead of running to the shelter of the library. (In hindsight, I realize this was a mistake.) The rain got worse. And then it went apocalyptic. IMG-20130521-00055 2

The sky went yellowish-gray-- not unlike the mess in some poopy diapers I've changed. The wind rocked the car like a pack of wild teenagers. And it was loud. Like a train roaring through me loud. And just when I thought "OMG! Tornado!" It passed. Police went by with lights and sirens, and I thought only that the rain and wind must have caused a car accident. The porta-potty in the ball field was on its side and the roof was off the bleachers, but I just thought it was a bad thunderstorm. At no time was there a funnel-shaped cloud in the sky.

All power was off in the library, so I headed home. Trees were down, branches and debris were everywhere. Sheds were turned over. Sheet metal was wrapped around hydro lines. But I noticed a curious lack of pattern to the debris and fallen trees. They didn't all fall down in straight lines, which is what we're used to seeing around here in the aftermath of thunderstorms in cottage country, Ontario. We are surrounded by lakes and rivers and hills and valleys. Not the usual stuff tornadoes are made of.

Then I heard the reports of ruined houses and barns and fallen hydro poles. "Tornado" was the rumour. You'll notice from the article below that even the meteorologist suspected the damage was only caused by hight winds.

Sure enough, days later Environment Canada confirmed an EF-2 tornado "touched down". In this community we are ill prepared for such destruction by Mother Nature. It was a miracle no one was hurt.

I also find the term "touched down" interesting. I know it's traditional terminology for tornadoes, but it doesn't seem appropriate in this case. There wasn't a funnel-shaped cloud coming down from the sky. It was as though the tornado was all around, disorganized, or maybe just becoming organized. The simultaneous birth and death of a tornado.

Despite the damage to poles and power lines, hydro workers had electricity restored within hours. Emergency workers responded to calls for the damaged houses, racing through the wind and rain, ready to do their jobs. The community rallied.

The clean-up continues. And we vow to be more prepared. But can we ever be prepared when tornadoes strike where they're least expected?