Friday, July 25, 2008

Escaping the tornado terror

This photo shot by New Hampshire State Police shows the devastation after a tornado ripped through nearby Deerfield, N.H.

What a wicked week it's been here in New Hampshire. We've had nothing but constant thunderstorms with torrential, tropical rains, and then yesterday a massive tornado touched down just a short distance from the Raymond Shopping Center where I was shopping with Declan and Dacey just after 11:30 a.m. I took the kids to the Dollar Tree for a quick look around while we waited for Kathy to get home from summer school in Stratham.

When we left the house all was quiet. The rain had stopped and the skies were brightening up. We got to the store and looked around for about 15 minutes before running into one of Dacey's friends and her mom. We chatted for a few minutes and then, just before noon, we noticed the black clouds rolling in suddenly and they just opened up with more torrential rains. We didn't know it at the time, but a tornado warning had been issued for the area and then, after the storm passed over the shopping center, a tornado formed in Deerfield, the next town over from Raymond.

The tornado cut a path of devastation through nine New Hampshire towns as it headed north into Epsom, Barnstead ... all the way to Ossipee. Sadly, a grandmother in Deerfield died when her home was obliterated. She was holding her 3-month-old grandson at the time. He made it out alive when rescuers heard his cries and pulled him from the rubble.

Tornadoes aren't common here, but this summer has been a particularly active one in terms of severe weather. It's felt more like Florida than New Hampshire with all the humidity and the tropical flow from the south.

I haven't heard the official word on how this tornado will compare to others over the years, but based on pictures of the mangled wreckage, flattened homes, uprooted trees and shredded powerlines, I'd say it's probably one of the worst we've seen, at least in recent memory.
You can check out some of the photos on this slideshow from WMUR-TV

Ever since the tornado, I haven't been able to stop thinking about how lucky we were yesterday. We were so close to this. Had the tornado formed just a few miles to the south in Raymond, we could have been right in its path. And being in the store at the time, we would have had no basement to run to to keep safe. We'd dealt with so many thunderstorms over the last week, but no one expected tornadoes. When the storm came, it seemed like just another thunderstorm. Now we know it wasn't, and we know just how vulnerable we are even though we live in New Hampshire, thousands of miles away from Tornado Alley.

No comments: