It’s nice being on television and having people from all around the country ask you how you’re doing. But I think when you’re talking about tornadoes, people around here would just as soon let someone else share the attention next time around.
Last week’s rare January tornado was the second tornado to show up here in less than eight months. This one was completely unexpected — until this year, there had been only seven January tornadoes in Ohio in the last 70 years. We’re using our snow shovels on debris instead of snow this week.
I have a friend who lives by the river and was having trouble processing what was going on when the tornado struck. She thought it was a train, but there was no whistle. Then she looked out and saw the water in the river swirling around and realized what was happening. By the time she could react, it was over.
I have another friend who had just brought his small dog in from the yard a minute before the tornado swept by his house. That dog will never know how close he came to being a real-life Toto.
I did a little snooping around and found out that as far as tornadoes go, Miami ranks in the top third of Ohio counties since 1950, which is when someone decided to start keeping track of these things. At the bottom of the list is Morgan County, with only one tornado in all that time. Morgan County is kind of hard to find not only for tornadoes but also for humans; it is in Southeast Ohio and has a population of around 15,000, so apparently tornadoes don’t think it’s worth the effort.
It’s not like Miami County is Oklahoma or Kansas, where tornadoes show up all the time. I can only remember a few and I’ve lived here most my life. I remember back in the 1960s I was with my brother watching the Reds on TV in Cy Hermann’s basement in Westbrook. We never heard a thing, but when we left it looked like something had blown down half the trees in the neighborhood. Everyone said it was a tornado and I believed them. I tried to look it up and there was a tornado in July of 1961, so I guess that was it. It sure made a big impression on me — I was only 5 at the time. I think the Reds lost, which to me at the time seemed like a bigger disaster.
Back then, you didn’t have National Weather Service warnings and tornado sirens. Every time you stepped out the door, you pretty much took your life into your own hands. You never knew when a tornado might swoop down, suck you up and deposit you in Oz, or maybe even worse somewhere in Morgan County where you would never be found. Kids had to be tough back then.
We all should be thankful no one was hurt in our most recent brush with bad weather. There’s also something else to be thankful for — the way something like this brings out the good in people.
Yes, I know there are people who try to take advantage of the situation and cheat homeowners on repairs. But there are only a few of them and I can’t help but think they’ll get their just desserts someday in that big tornado in the sky.
There are many, many more people who have chipped in to help out in any way they can. I had one friend tell me that people he never saw before came to his house to help clear away debris. They said they just wanted to help. That happened all over town in the last week. Sometimes it takes a little hardship to pull people together and show that while we have differences, we mostly are the same. We’re all in the same boat and when the boat springs a leak we find out we can keep it afloat when we all bail together.
So here’s a big thank-you to the first responders, the power company workers and the city crews who have worked so hard in the last week to get things back to normal. And here’s an even bigger thanks to neighbors and friends and strangers who helped out just because it was the right thing to do.
Hopefully, we can now get back to “normal” around here, if there is such a thing. We’ll be happy to let someone else get all the attention next time around.