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Stormy days and stormy nights

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Greg Peck
May 21, 2013

You read the stories, see the pictures and watch the video of the devastation wrought by the massive monster in Oklahoma, the one that made kindling out of walls and roofs and homes in Moore before twisting away to shatter lives elsewhere.

You head to bed later that night with those words and images fresh in your memory, after noticing on your TV screen the storm watch listing your county. The watch, it says, will be in effect until 3 a.m.

You say a little prayer for the families, the victims in Oklahoma before tossing and turning in the upstairs heat and humidity, a ceiling fan doing too little to keep you cool. Sometime in the middle of the night, you awaken and shuffle downstairs to use the bathroom. While there, you hear the distant rumble of thunder. A storm is approaching, you're sure; you remember the storm watch. The thunder is probably what woke you. But is it your basic spring thunderstorm or something much more menacing?

Back upstairs, you try to get back to sleep as periodic westerly winds buffet your home, rattling the frame of your open window and the shade pulled high. Suddenly, lights flash, the power goes out, only to resurge just as quickly. It goes on and off repeatedly before suddenly casting you in the dark, without even the fan to offer respite from the sweltering air.

You wonder what time it is. You wonder if you should shut the window as the storm bears down. You wonder if you'll awaken in time for work without that electric alarm clock, and whether you should get up to alert the power company. You sit up and listen—at least without the fan, your hearing is much more attune to what might be coming. Windblasts buffet the house repeatedly. You wonder how the big ash outside can stay standing. But you hear no thunder, you hear no rain pelting the roof, and—thankfully—you don't hear the roaring that tornado victims so often liken to a freight train.

Your spouse remains sleeping through it all, and you lie back down, staying awake only to the sounds of the wicked winds and the flapping shade. Slowly, as slumber starts to grab you, you sense the gusts are becoming less frequent and less severe. You drift off, thankful once again to be in the comfort of a home standing strong.

HOW TO HELP: To help people affected by the Oklahoma tornadoes, as well as disasters such as floods and other crises, donate to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or, to make a $10 donation, text the word REDCROSS to 90999. Donations help provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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