FIRST PERSON | TULSA, Okla. — We have May (not April) showers here, so I thought nothing of it when I heard about the tornado watch and potential storms on the radio earlier this afternoon. That’s everyday life for us Okies. A quiet evening was planned. My husband and I were getting our much-needed haircuts at a local beauty college, and a friend and I were getting together for an event we were planning.
It was cloudy all afternoon, but I could see lightning starting to flash from my salon chair. Soon the receptionist came on the intercom, informing students and clients that the storm shelter was open in the back, but that students should please not go in and hurt themselves right now. I sensed a story behind that, but didn’t have a chance to ask.
We left the beauty college right at 7 p.m. and stopped to pick up some dinner. The sky was beginning to look ominous with gray skies overhead and black clouds to the south. A flash of lightning could be seen occasionally still. A quick call to my friend confirmed that we would be postponing our meeting. We quickly traversed the seven miles home because we wanted to get there before the storm struck. Our home is off of Lewis, between 71st and 61st streets, and Lewis floods very badly. Construction crews have been working on the drainage there for over a year, but it has hardly helped. Add standing water, 5-foot ditches, and floating orange cones into the equation, and it can be dangerous to drive through.
There was plenty of time, it turned out. A few sprinkles of rain spat upon us, but we were mostly dry as we unlocked the front door and pushed the cat back inside with our legs. We promised her that soon she would be grateful we didn’t let her outside. The wind started picking up. It was quiet one moment, and then whipping through the trees the next, and kept going back and forth like that for several minutes. There were no lightning bolts, just frequent flashes that lit up the entire sky. It began to rain, but stopped within a few moments.
It didn’t begin to pour until about 8:20 p.m. Very rarely does it just rain slowly and steadily in Oklahoma. We get it in buckets at a time. Down came the rain while the wind whipped through the trees. Mere moments after the rain starts the garden bed next to the porch is flooded. The tornado sirens come on, and my husband and I sat in the living room with the cat because there’s no way the three of us are squeezing in the miniature half-bath downstairs unless the word comes that there actually is a tornado on the ground within two miles of us.
Then the sirens stop. The wind stops. Eventually, the rain stops also.
At 9 p.m., it’s all over.
I still sit with my eyes glued to the weather reports, because we were blessed to only catch the tail end of it. My family in Broken Arrow is being hit a little worse, but the storms are quickly exiting there as well. According to the meteorologists, there will be no more severe storms until Wednesday night, just some rain. We can sleep peacefully tonight.
Now the cat sleeps peacefully, my husband plays a video game, and my eyes begin to droop with sleepiness even as I pray for those who are still in the storm’s path.