Fort Worth, Texas, February 15, 2012~
Howdy from Texas, land of rodeos, cowboys (and good lookin' cowgirls), championship teams, and TORNADOES!
Joe Dorman here. I am doing okay (for now). It has helped that storm season has ended (or has it??); I am no longer chasing. After the devastation I witnessed in Joplin, Missouri, the day of the killer EF-5 tornado, I have hung up my chasing shoes (and my log book) for the very last time. I saw too much, felt too much, decided it was time for me to move on.
Do I miss it? Hell, yes! I'm not lyin'. I miss the guys I worked with, miss the smell of lightning and the deafening percussion of nearby thunder as it assaulted my eardrums. I miss the roiling, boiling clouds tumbling overhead and the sound of hail bouncing off our vehicles (and off our heads). Chasing was exciting, but after the Joplin tornado disaster, I felt it in my spirit that it was time for me to end it all.
It was so bad (the depression) I wanted to kill myself. Even tried to do so, twice; ended up having to go into the hospital to get my stomach pumped and get my head straightened out. Still suffer from periodic flashbacks, but for now, they're not too bad: I have my counseling appointments and my meds (Valium and Haldol) to keep me sane.
I do know this much, though: my wife and kids are glad I am home. I work from home, where I work for a plumbing company. I field calls from worried (or desperate) people who are having problems, and I then call different plumbers and send them to the appropriate places. It is a 24-hour job, but it keeps my mind busy and off the weather.
Now if it is storming, I get sad because I wish I were still out in the field, but the memories won't allow it. So I just work from home and enjoy my family (when I am not fielding calls or sending plumbers out, that is). I'm just grateful I'm still able to provide for my little family, even though my mind/emotions are mucked up.
I have been trying to go to church on Sundays. It helps. It helps to have God on my side and to read my Bible or do my journaling on a continual basis. I know I can always trust in God to get me through things, no matter how bad they seem to be. He got me through Joplin, Missouri (and other various, scary storms); if I can do that, then I can face anything. It is an ongoing learning process.
Speaking of storms, there may be severe storms well east of us (east of Dallas) this afternoon (mainly large hail, wind, and severe lightning). I would join my compadres; I am sure they are busy poring over the latest mesoscale discussions and maps and planning their routes. Then they will head out and find that storm, hoping to bag some hail, CG's, or a tor (tornado in chaser-ese).
Thinking of my friends makes me sad, but if something were to happen (God forbid!), I don't think I could take it, especially after what I saw back on May 22, 2011, in Joplin.
Then you have the report of a chaser from Minnesota who was killed while going back home. He was killed in Oklahoma, when a female drunk driver going the wrong way slammed into his vehicle, killing him. The man was only weeks away from his 25th birthday: he leaves behind a grieving wife and a precious three-year-old little girl. If I had heard about that while chasing, I don't think my heart could have taken it, especially after Joplin, Missouri. It would have been far too much for me to handle.
So there you go. That is what is new with me. A lot quieter life, perhaps, but without all the excitment, drama, and danger. I do wish I could go back to chasing storms, but I can no longer do so. It is a catch-22 situation.
If any of y'all do chase later today (or this coming spring), please drive carefully and watch out for the other drivers/chasers out on the road and don't be stupid while chasing! Your life is far too precious than to risk losing it to a rogue storm or other unforseen hazards! Remember this: property CAN be replaced: human lives canNOT.
Happy Chasing, y'all! As for me, I'll stick to what I do now; it's a lot easier on my frazzled/weary nerves!