Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Storm basement follies

The historic high rise my Wife works in has several below ground basement levels.

On the rare occasion when tornado sirens wail through the alleys and narrow streets adjoining the downtown district, the tenants of her building make their way to the lowest levels of the historic center and sit out the closing tornadic activity in climate controlled comfort.

Other than the normal conversations that erupt when folks are gathered underground waiting out a passing wonder of Oklahoma weather, modern technology has enabled two-way communication with those on the "outside" as well.

Fingers fly over miniscule keyboards, sending digital updates and messages of relief or concern to friends and loved ones.

Cell phones flip, click, flop and slide open and closed as interrupted 9-5er's seek information of events occurring outside the safety of their concrete and steel block size tomb.

People gather around laptops that are wirelessly streaming the latest video feeds from the local news stations as they kick into high gear and cherish the opportunity to flex their weather reporters muscles.

Somewhere in the serene chaos, my Wife notices the husband of a friend of hers among the not-quite huddling masses. She described him as "texting furiously" on one of his micro-qwertied electronic communication wonders, while dealing with "a continuous barrage of incoming calls on his cell phone."

So engrossed was he in his dissemination of both verbal and written digitized information that my Wife didn't bother to engage him in any conversation, but managed to sneak in a quick "hey-wave" of cordial acknowledgment.

Like most tornado warnings, this one passed, but was soon followed up with a twin doppelganger of duck and cover twister warnings soon after.

When the third (and final) tornado warning was called off about the same time the guy at the Slade Gravel pit was yanking on the birds tail sending Fred Flintstone for a rail slide down the tail of his brontosaurus, Wifey caught up with "husband of friend" guy on a rare moment of non-communication calm.

Why the fast and furious phone/text fest during the warnings?

Turns out the guy works high up in the OKC Thunder organization, and was fielding frantic calls and text messages from panicky and distraught Seattle-ites who relocated here with the team back in July.

While they may have experienced some nasty winter weather during their previous 8-months as OKC taxpayers, and a bit of rain under the shadow of the Seattle Space Needle back home, apparently the sirens wailing in the downtown area ("Tornado's only strike trailer parks in rural areas...right?") were enough to spook the lot of them, prompting the mass exodus of Seattle Supersonic turned OKC Thunder staffers from their comfy desks and into their designated storm shelters.

And then the calls and IM's starting pouring in.

You gotta feel for these people in some little bitty way, as I outlined in a previous post.

Still and all, this was a serious round of weather, as eight good people down in Lone Grove lost their lives, and more may be found today.

Whether you came here from Seattle, So Cal, or all points in-between, when those sirens start wailing, life boils down to a few simple things.

A good lesson to carry through the coming days.

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