Tuesday, April 19, 2011

'Stuff Flying in the Air'

I was reminded of the elementary school lessons about approaching severe weather and tornadoes. Where does one go to seek shelter? The 'family of tornadoes', which caused so much destruction in the U.S. last weekend, resulted in many anxious tales.

One worker had been washing kitchen equipment behind the Golden Corral, a popular restaurant in Sanford, N.C., when he spotted a giant black funnel cloud bearing down. He ran to the owner who walked out the back door. She dodged a piece of flying wood and then she saw it: a dark funnel cloud thick with wood and metal only a couple of blocks away.

'About 140 people were eating in her restaurant, many of them in front of the thick plate-glass windows that run the length of the place.

“All I could think is that I have to get them away from the glass because I knew it would just cut them in half,’’ she said yesterday. “I thought, where can I put them? Then I yelled, ‘Tornado! Everyone to my kitchen!’ ’’

People packed into the meat cooler and behind the stoves. Others jammed into the restrooms. Then they waited. After five minutes, she said, the darkness lifted and Rodriguez peeked out the back door.

The tornado, she said, had bounced up, skipped the Golden Corral and made a sharp turn, setting down on top of a Lowe’s Home Improvement Center a few hundred feet away in the town of about 29,000 in the center of the state.

“I could see the roof was just gone and all of the Lowe’s stuff flying up in the air,’’ the owner said.

The Lowe’s store was essentially demolished, but an estimated 70 customers were saved when another fast-thinking manager herded customers and his staff into a windowless storeroom.'

This horrific occurrence encourages reflection about our own quick thinking in times of emergency.