16 Apr Call for Alarm
Danielle, matriarch of an extreme storm chasing family, always has her head in the clouds.
Being married to a storm chaser makes life interesting. Add three small children and an Easter play to get ready for during the Texas tornado season and you have a whole new level of drama. I remember the day that almost ended Bill’s enthusiasm to chase extreme weather. It is a day I ponder often as I look to the sky for a ‘call for alarm’.
Bill had headed east on a warm, sunny day in April of 2002. The kids and I headed to church. A few hours later, I sensed a changed in the air, that feeling that all was not well. The kids were still in rehearsal and as I walked outside I knew it was cause for alarm. There was a huge rotating cloud over the parking lot! I called Bill and he confirmed that radar showed a hook, which meant a possible tornado. I ran back inside and hollered a warning to all who would listen, gathered the kids and raced out away from the church. I knew I needed to find substantial shelter as the transformers were sparking up and down the highway. We pulled into a windowless building and rushed inside; only to find rows and rows of bottles and glass everywhere. I had just taken my small children into a liquor store. This was not the safe harbor I was looking for. We hurried back to the car and I assessed the situation: a rotating storm to the east and dark clouds and home to the west. I decided to run for home although Bill had warned that another storm was on the way. As I drove, I kept reassuring the kids that everything was going to be okay but I was not so sure since the clouds looked more ominous with every mile of progress.
We reached our country road and I felt a sigh of relief as we turned down the lane. We were abruptly faced with whole trees across our path. We turned the car around and managed to make it home via an alternate route just in time. I grabbed the kids from the running car and headed into the back door with the headlights showing the way through the darkened house – the trees must have taken power lines down with them. Thankfully, we had a safe room we had prepared for times like these. With blankets, flashlights, water bottles and snacks, we gathered in the reinforced closet and began to read from the book of Psalms with our pets crowded around us. The kids were calm, we had practiced this drill before but I remember the desperate prayers running through my spirit as I recited,
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”(Psalm 91:1 NLT)
Soon, my spirit regained peace. It was about that same time that we heard Bill frantically calling our names. He had arrived to see the headlines and running car with doors wide open and no sign of us. In the urgency to get home, he had blown the springs in the big truck because he drove over the trees that had blocked our way and was questioning how he could have left us alone under the circumstances. When he found us not only unharmed but also peaceful and undisturbed, he was relieved.
Yet, this evening of storms had settled an unrest in him. He was questioning the wisdom of leaving home to warn others of impending storms while leaving us, in his mind, unprotected. Since this storm, we always chase as a team. We may not always be in the truck with him, but we supply support from home and are in constant communication. He chased on two fronts simultaneously until our children were older; the first was on the home front. He kept us up to date as he continuously watched the conditions in our area. The second front was in front of him.
Today, we are able to join him often on the road and we have made a family affair of warning, assisting, and restoring other families affected by severe weather. As we remember this experience, we are glad that we practiced “Know where to go” and had a plan in place. When we explain how to ‘never die from a tornado’, it is this experience that reminds us of the importance of what we are called to do….as a family.