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Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner

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Member Since: Dec, 2001

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'...We'd think they were over, but sometimes, they come back. That's when they git ya. ...'

Image 2011, Karla Dorman

Used to think when a storm passed, it was over.

Not anymore, not since September 14th.

The weathermen were calling for a cold front to move through the area.  A strong one.  Good.  We were eagerly anticipating relief from the brutal heat we had endured nearly all Summer, any way we could get it.    

Around two in the afternoon, I noticed building clouds to the North.  One minute, it had been clear.  Now, towering thunderheads were rapidly developing.

About the same time, the office weather radio went off.  Tornado Watch, effective immediately, until midnight.

Great.  My wife was going to love this.  She absolutely hates storms with a purple passion.  If it gets too bad, we go to the local hospital, since our area has no basements.

I'm from Minnesota, originally.  Everyone had basements or somewhere to go if it was nasty.  My wife was born in this area.  Central Texas.  That is the main thing she hates about this state:  no underground shelter.

Trust me, I hear about it all the time.  Especially when there's storms in the forecast.

Called her, to give her a head's up.  She wasn't too thrilled.  Better safe than sorry, I told her.  I informed her that I was just about finished up here and would be home within a half hour.

When I left work, the entire northern horizon was filled with lightning-lit clouds.  Couldn't hear thunder yet; the storms were still some distance away.

Got home.  Wanda met me at the car, telling me that we had to leave for the hospital NOW.  She had her 'go-bag' with her.  

That's a backpack she carries with her.  It has snacks, bottled water, puzzle books, reading material, an extra change of clothes and shoes.

And her meds.

She had my bag with her, too.  Planning ahead, she says.  Never know when you're going to need it.

She asked if I had my little weather radio with me.  I did, in my front pocket.  Fresh batteries.  Earplugs, so she couldn't hear what was happening.

Wanda told me the TV stations were saying there were multiple warnings on the storms.  Damage and some deaths had already been reported.  She was working up to a full blown panic attack.

The hospital is five miles from where we live.  They know us there, especially during severe weather season.  Have gotten to be pretty good friends with Charlie, the security guard, and most of the ER staff.

Should, since they've treated Wanda more than several times when it was bad out.

He met us at the door and said it would be best if we went to the snack bar.  It's on the lowest floor (what the hospital humorously calls 'The Basement').  Interior room.  No windows. 

More walls between us and the chaos outside, you know.

Right before we went inside, the tornado sirens wound up.  That sound has its own built-in chill factor.

Needless to say, we got downstairs as quick as we could.

Put my earplugs in, turned on my little radio.  It was going nuts with all of the warnings.  They were coming so fast and furious, they were interrupting each other.

Asked Wanda if she wanted to know what was going on.  'No, thank you,' she said.  'Less I know, the better I'll be.  Damn, I wish we lived up North.'

We got to the snack bar.  Got each of us a pop and some chips, then sat down and started to eat.  The overhead pager issued a CODE BLACK.  

That meant, tornado sighted.  Take cover now.

People began pouring into the room.  There was much talk about the tornadoes devastating cities and towns not far from here.

Wanda didn't want to hear it.  She opened her bag and got what she calls her 'Happy Pills,' took one.  Offered me one, but I told her, 'No, thanks.'

I told her I was sure the storms wouldn't be bad.  About an hour, and they'd be gone.


Thunder rumbled.  Usually when it storms, we don't hear it, unless it's bad.  It kept getting louder and louder and louder.

Wanda freaked when the lights went out.

They didn't come back on.  The generator failed to kick in.  This couldn't be good.

My little radio was still going nuts.  A meteorologist from the weather office came on with a tornado warning for our area, and then, the radio just ... no signal.  Nothing but static.

Oh, crap.

The roar of of nearly continuous thunder was accompanied by snapping, crashing sounds.  I grabbed Wanda and don't mind telling you, I prayed.

Don't know how long the storms raged, but it seemed to be forever.

Finally, it settled down.  People wanted to leave, to see if their cars and loved ones in the hospital were okay.  I told them to stay put.  They didn't argue.

Being six ten and 300 pounds will do that. 

Wanda muttered something.  'What?,' I said.

She screamed, 'Sometimes they come back!'

'What are you talking about?,' I asked her.  'When I was a small girl,' she said, 'We used to visit Gram and Gramps up in the Panhandle.  It would come up a cloud, we'd git to the cellar, wait 'em out.  We'd think they were over, but sometimes, they came back..  That's when they'd git ya.'

Almost told her she was full of it.  But that's what they did.

They came back.

Back and forth, that front oscillated overhead.  Wave after wave of storms assaulted the hospital.  The walls and ceilings bowed in and out, almost as if they were ... breathing.

Thank God, they held.  Where we were, we were safe.

The lights were still out.  My damn radio was nothing but white noise.

We didn't know what was going on upstairs.

When it finally seemed things were over, we went out to see if anything remained.

In the dying light of sunset, we were stunned by what we saw.

The hospital used to be five floors.  Three were ... missing, scattered across the parking lot, piled on top of crushed vehicles.

Including my brand new candle apple green SUV.

Trees, broken off, whittled by the winds to waist-high stumps.  

The smell of wet foliage, mud and gas was heavy in the air, along with an undercurrent of something sinister.  The smell of death.

Lightning flared in the clouds raining on our heads, but it was clear the storms were gone; all of the intense activity was to the South.

Sirens from emergency vehicles screamed in the distance, heading this way.  The only other sounds were people's shocked reactions to the devastation before them, and Wanda's soft crying.

Sometimes, they come back.  Forty seven people in our community lost their lives to the storms.  Sixty percent of the town was utterly destroyed.

We got off easy, compared to other places.  Some were completely wiped off the face of the Earth.

We're living in a temporary shelter now.  Picking up what is left of our lives.  And making plans to move up North.

Wanda says Minnesota sounds nice.  Inclined to agree with her.  Been homesick ...

© 2011, Karla Dorman (9/29) 

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Reviewed by Barbara Terry 1/4/2012
Minnesota has tornados too and they can be very devsatating. So does Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio. Just because it might be winter doesn't mean a tornado can't happen. But of all the natural disasters I would rather deal with the tornados than the earthquakes in the west or the hurricanes in the east. Being in northeast lower Michigan, we get enough rain when there is a hurrican up the coast. No, I will deal with the tornados. Thank you for sharing sister Karla.

May the Lord Jesus bless you, and those whom you love and who love you, and be with you always and at your side constantly. With much love in my heart, joy to the world, peace on earth & ((((((((((MANY WONDERFUL SISTERLY HUGGGGSSSS)))))))))), your little den sister, Barbie
Reviewed by Michelle Kidwell Power In The Pen 1/2/2012
Karla this is an awesome story, miss reading you writings, glad that Karen pointed out that I missed this one, was offline from the end of Sept to like the beginning of November but I'm here now and I just hope I don't have nightmares from reading this!!!
In Christs Love
Reviewed by Kay P Devenish 10/13/2011
An awesome write Karla it made me feel what it must be like going through a Tornado...we have cyclones here in Australia they are like tornados,also,this write of yours made me wonder if YOU wrote from first hand experience of being through one yourself???it seemed so real.The part about the earplugs made me smile,I really liked that (his)character,it is one of the best short stories I have ever read.
Great work!
Love from
Reviewed by Jon Willey 10/9/2011
Very terrifying story Karla. You made it very realistic and I hope I never have to experience such a tragedy. I bid you love and peace my dear friend. Jon Michael
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 9/30/2011
Holy shit, Karla! I am surprised I didn't have nightmares when I read the original draft you wrote out longhand! WOW! You made it even better (if that is possible ...)! TERRIFIC horror story! And if I have nightmares? Prepare to meet Mr. Crutch! LOL DONK!! Right on the head! LOL Extremely well written! BRAVA!! And that pic: WOW!!!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your twin, Karen Lynn. (((o.0)))

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