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Story Time: Only on Wednesday

Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 at 4:46 pm

By Lorry Myers

It was going to be a bad weather night. The television warned me, so did the multiple alerts on my phone. The evening held the promise of heavy rain, hail, and even tornadoes. This very weather situation is the reason my ears perk up on Wednesdays, when the tornado sirens in my county are tested.

I heard that siren the Wednesday before.

Growing up, there were no county sirens or text alerts that bad weather was coming. My father would stand in the yard and look up at the sky as he listened to his transistor radio. Dad would have the cellar door open when the neighbors started to gather, listening and looking at the sky. Our cellar was buried under a hill in our backyard and the dark cavern smelled like old potatoes and buried secrets.

I hated that cellar.

That’s where we went when Dad and the weather thought it was time. I remember sitting down there with family and neighbors and never once being afraid of the storm overheard. When my father thought it was safe, he’d open the cellar door and we would all go home to our intact houses.

Until the next storm.

I grew up believing that bad weather was simply that until I drove through Joplin on my way to a funeral. Joplin, where a tornado took out neighborhoods and neighbors, hospitals and history, and one hundred sixty-one citizens. On the side of the highway, beside a mountain of debris and broken dreams, was an outbuilding spray painted, “God help us.”

After that, bad weather became something else.

I pay attention to stormy weather alerts. When the seasonal test siren blows each Wednesday, I recognize and appreciate what and who the tornado siren is for. People fuss that the siren is loud, annoying, and even ignored.

Not me, I’ve been to Joplin.

For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard