TORNADO WARNINGS By ELLIN CURLEY

I live in southern Connecticut, an area usually immune from extreme weather events. We get an occasional hurricane, usually the tail end as a storm meanders up the Atlantic coast. Occasionally, it’s a serious one — like Hurricane Sandy in 2012 — and it does real damage, but these have always been rare. We used to lose power a few times a year. Usually, it was just for a few hours. Our typical four-season weather does not cause flooding, droughts, mudslides, earthquakes, or tornados.

Tornado damage in Rutherford County, Tennessee

Recently though, we got a blaring tornado warning on our phones, telling us to head for the basement for the next half-hour. In shock, we headed downstairs with our dogs. This is scary stuff! I can’t believe that people stay in areas that are frequently battered by weather disasters. They lose their homes in many different natural disasters, yet they rebuild, on the same spot, again and again. Don’t they realize that the Universe is sending a message and that message is “MOVE!” We weren’t hit by the tornado, just a bad storm, but rumor has it two neighboring towns did get a small tornado. They are very rare here.

Tornado touches down in Mansfield, Connecticut

I’m not brave. You wipe my house out once and I will get the message. I’m heading for safer terrain. We’re such wusses. After a hurricane or two with week long power outages, we put in a full-house generator. I’m not a “roughing it” kind of gal. The generator has earned its keep several times over.

I also don’t like camping or rustic cabins. One of my worst memories is a weekend family summer camp to which I went when my kids were young. We slept in a bare log cabin with bunk beds, a table, and a single light bulb. The communal bathroom was a long trek through the woods which was a root-filled obstacle course. Stumbling through the woods in the middle of the night with my eight-year-old daughter in tow was my definition of torture. I never forgave my ex -husband for insisting we try this “adventure” on Lake George.

Basically, I’m a spoiled city girl having lived there in Manhattan for my first 40-years. By now, I’ve lived in the suburban woods now for 30-years but it’s a civilized suburban woods.

In the city of New York, Nature rarely impinges on life. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was a big exception to that. Blizzards regularly shut the city down, but all it means is you just can’t go anywhere. You’re safe though you might be stuck at home for a few days. It’s inconvenient but not life-threatening or even scary. Even Hurricane Sandy didn’t threaten the tall apartment buildings and brownstones in which most people reside in New York. Some streets flooded. A few cars were swept away. Most people were safe and sound. No loss of life, no major property damage, no rebuilding. That’s all foreign to me.

I do know someone who had a beach house in Connecticut which was partly destroyed in Hurricane Sandy, but she knew the risks when she bought beachfront property. She couldn’t afford to rebuild the house and it took her years to sell the damaged house. Not a great investment.

Rural log cabin — not sure ours was even this nice

In my suburban rural area in Connecticut, I know someone whose house was hit by a falling tree during a hurricane. That’s the biggest danger we face in this neighborhood. Falling trees in storms are not uncommon in this heavily-treed area. My family built a house in this town in 1934 and has never had a direct hit. Our road has been blocked several times by fallen trees and the power lines have been pulled down regularly, but never any property damage or personal injury.

Fallen tree on a small road

So we’ve been very lucky in escaping major storm damage over the years. A good part of that luck is because we live in a part of the country that isn’t regularly terrorized by Mother Nature. I think I’ll stay here the rest of my life. Three-months of winter is an acceptable trade-off for safety and peace of mind.

Times and the climate are changing. Let’s hope we manage to get things sorted out before it gets much worse.



Categories: city, Ellin Curley, Photography, Seasons, storms, Weather

Tags: , , , , , ,

18 replies

  1. You’re no wuss Ellin, it has to awful of lose everything in a storm/hurricane, it’s insane to rebuild in a danger zone.
    Leslie

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    • I don’t understand why so many people spend the time and money to rebuild on the same site after numerous weather events have destroyed their homes. Why don’t they take the insurance money, if there is any in an area like that, and relocate to safer ground? I don’t understand that kind of loyalty to a plot of land or a geographical location, especially if that place is clearly hazardous to your health!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t understand it either….

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      • Ask Tommy about all those folks who talk to our mics and cameras, in the midst of yet another calamity, saying – “We won’t move. We won’t be moved. We will build right here, again”. They make swell sound bites but I always wonder about the look in their eyes. WHY?

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  2. I live in Florida where we have six months of hurricane season. Right now there are two storms in the Gulf that we are watching. We have had some awful damage from several hurricanes over the years, but I really like where I live. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. A tornado warning would scare me to death!

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    • I was visiting my former mother-in-law in Pompano Beach, FL in the 1980’s. That area had never had a tornado. My ex and I went out to a movie and when we tried to get home, many roads were blocked off by police. We wandered around, trying to find a route back to his mother’s beach condo and we saw incredible damage to homes, cars and trees. In fact cars were actually IN trees in some places. We noticed though that the damage often was only on one side of the street and the other side was untouched. When we finally got back to the condo, the cement blocks in the parking structure were tossed around like pebbles and all the lights in the area were out. We learned that we had missed a freak tornado that went directly through the parking lot where we were staying! Very scary!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good gosh. This is exactly why tornadoes scare me. So hit or miss. With a hurricane, the entire area is put on alert. That must have been the scariest thing!

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        • For us, it was weird. It actually passed about four miles away through Milford and it wasn’t a big tornado, I think all our bumpy ground and electrical towers break up the big ones. You need a lot of flat ground for a big tornado to develop. But — even a very small tornado can remove half your house. We’ve had more of them this year than I ever remember, probably because of the intense heat and humidity. The climate is changing and I don’t think anyone is safe anymore.

          Liked by 1 person

    • But you don’t live on a cliff or on the actual beach, right? It’s not like your house gets knocked down every few years and you relentlessly rebuild it. We have some really bad weather up here, but we put up with the ice and the blizzards and the heat and humidity because we like it and sometimes, adore it. Yes, the weather could be nicer, but we don’t get flattened by tornados (though we had one little one come close a few years ago — but that is pretty rare) or rocked by earthquakes. I think the biggest events were getting struck by lightning thrice in 20 years. Fortunately, we had insurance. And getting hit by lightning is NOT special to any region. It’s just something that can happen anywhere for no special reason.

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  3. Nature is unforgiving. I have recently seen photos of homes that were seriously damaged in landslides on the coast and it makes me wonder why people have to build so close to the ocean. Erosion is a big problem in coastal areas and those people won’t be selling their home anytime soon. Even here at Sisters Beach there is coastal erosion and property owners have sandbagged the areas where the dunes are unstable but one big storm could probably undo all that work. I also wonder why, in a country that is so bushfire prone people choose to build new homes amongst tall trees. Bushfires are far more dangerous now, the seasons are longer and the fires seem more intense. Suburban sprawl has made more homes vulnerable especially in cities like Canberra.

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    • This has never made sense to me — or Garry — either. Either they are frightfully rich or they have a staggering insurance bill. We have people like that up here, too. Their house gets swept away by storms and they rebuild. You ask them why and they don’t understand the question. Me? I’d head for a safer place to live!

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    • In California, where my daughter lives, there is so much danger from so many different types of natural disasters, that it’s hard to know where to go to escape them. She lives in LA proper so she’s far away from the fires but often has to deal with droughts and nearby mudslides and small earthquakes. The weather is getting more extreme and more volatile and it will be getting worse as time goes on. There may come a time when almost everyone, wherever they live, will have to deal with some kind of weather crises on a regular basis.

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