PART 2: (Part 1 is here if you need to get caught up)
I ran my fingers over the towns being listed off to get a reference and realized the enormity of being in a slow moving tin coke can, about to cross paths with an F5 tornado.
We must’ve been in a dip because as soon as we topped the hill, there it was, terrifying and beautiful. Ferocious. Loud, unemotional yet crazy mad. It was a big, dark finger of God, just about to end some lives. The tornado was 3/4 a mile wide, a giant, black wedge barreling right towards us.
Sirens. Red lights speeding past. More sirens. the usually soundtrack and colors for a crisis mid crisis.
The sheriffs unified and pushed everyone to a stop on the freeway. The hail began.
I didn’t want the intimacy of this experience, I was a visitor, and unprepared. This didn’t belong to me, I’m not a tornado person I said, and we were sitting ducks.
Sheer panic and chaos was king: Husbands fled, dragging their tank-topped wives by the arm, cradling skinny child’s heads. Some ran to the ditch, some ran to the overpass, doors left open, cars abandoned, single flip flops and a baseball hat topsy turned and abandoned. I was an unpaid character in an action flick.
There was a slow moving red semi crossing the overpass to head away from the danger and south. I envied his freedom.
Realizing the sheriff was directing traffic off the freeway, we all eventually came to a pile in a small truck stop in a cacophony of blinding hail and fear. I looked to our left and a little tornado formed, like a feather, like the beginning drip of a soft serve machine, sublime, unafraid wonder. There were 22 tornados that touched down that day. It was pure luck not to experience shattered glass windows and bending metal.
After about half an hour, skies cleared and the clog of cars began to trickle away. The party was over.
We headed north, passing rescue vehicles speeding around an area that was completely stripped. Even the black top streets were now dirt roads. It was a little town by the name of Jarrell, TX. 26 people’s lives were lost, shredded to unidentifiable bits they said. It was the hardest thing to pass by, the immediate aftermath of bad luck and sorrow and obliteration and still be thankful I didn’t die in Texas that day.
For those visual people who want to see what it looked like:
Too much reading...
How about dessert?