Tornadoes and the state of technology

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A football game delay for a tornado?

My sister and her family live north of Ames, Iowa, where Saturday's Iowa State-Colorado game was delayed by a sure-enough twister.

I checked out a map, and sure enough, two towns that were devastated by tornadoes were near my sister's home at Gilbert. One was northwest of town and the other southeast, so I knew they probably had some bad weather.

Monday, an e-mail arrived confirming my suspicions, as well as shedding some light on the state of modern communications technology.

"Saturday night the girls were babysitting and the tornado siren went off. I called them on the cell and told them to find the basement in the apartment building. They were screaming etc. because they could see the funnel coming towards Gilbert from the second floor picture window.

"I grabbed the radio and the phone and went to the laundry room and crawled under a table. After we got the 'all clear' I told them to turn on the television because they had good pictures of the tornado.

"It turned out there were nine tornadoes in the area! They even had to evacuate Jack Trice stadium of 40,000-odd revelers at the ISU/Colorado game and instruct those who could hear (others just chugged another brown bottle and tailgated on!) to go to Hilton Coliseum across the parking lot.

"The destruction in the area is impressive. The little town of Stratford with a population of 736 people, had 25 homes completely destroyed and a bunch more severely damaged. One elderly lady was crushed in her basement when the house was lifted and turned on the foundation. The town of Woodward some distance to the northeast also had heavy damage."

My sister and one of her daughters went for a drive after church Sunday and saw trees down, garages lifted off the foundation, metal farm buildings caved in and huge logs strewn in fields.

You can see the path of the tornadoes in the fields -- looks like a swirling dark path across the gray brown fields," she wrote.

While Gilbert wasn't damaged, my sister's family wasn't unaffected -- their Internet server was in Stratford so their Web site was down.

The last paragraphs of the e-mail really show how small our world has become, however.

My brother-in-law check-ed in from India where he and his son were on a missionary trip.

"I told him I had just gotten out from under the basement table! He decided our house had more excitement than he had in India!"

Another son and his wife are on a belated honeymoon cruise, and my sister asked another daughter in Hawaii to e-mail the honeymooners in the Caribbean to tell them their house in Iowa didn't have any tornado damage.

"Now THAT's technology," my sister concluded.

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