CttH @ Amazon.com


It’s finally available! You can now order Call to the Hunt at Amazon.com. It currently has no sales rank. What are you going to do about that? Hmm?

As I was watching the news last night I was reminded that yesterday marked the second anniversary of our house being kissed by an F3 tornado. That was one scary day. Here’s a column I wrote for The Journal Record a few days later:

Riders of the storm: Hopefully, the bad part is over

by Steve Wedel
5/13/2003

 

It was hot and incredibly humid last Thursday. About 4 p.m., the sky started to darken and some of us in the newsroom began watching the weather reports online. Just before 5 p.m., my wife called to say the storm sirens were sounding in Moore. She asked what she should do.

We’d just closed on the house two weeks before and hadn’t given too much consideration to tornado protection. I was working for The Daily Oklahoman and watched the May 3, 1999, monster tear through Moore. When we bought our house and moved in two weeks ago, I thought of that storm, but figured nothing like that would ever happen again in the same area.

I told my wife to get in the hallway of the house, the only interior area with no outside walls. But, I really thought she was overreacting. Nonetheless, I promised to come home early.

Rain began falling hard as I walked to my car. By the time I left the downtown parking garage and headed south on Shields Boulevard the rain was coming so hard I could barely see. Then the radio announced that there was a tornado on the ground at N. 12th Street at Interstate 35 in Moore. My heart stopped for a moment. That was just too close to home. Images of the splintered houses, mangled cars and bereaved family members from 1999 played like a horror film in my head as I fought the rain to get home.

As I continued south, the sky cleared, the rain stopped, but a pillar of thick smoke was rising from the Moore area. I left Shields for Janeway and got to 12th before the police wouldn’t let me go further. I turned west and then south on the first street I could get on. Things didn’t look too bad … at first.

Then I found the houses without roofs and the roofs without houses. Debris filled the streets as I got closer to home. I could only stare ahead, couldn’t face the people filling yards along the winding route I had to take to find a clear path to my house and family.

Finally, I got to Dallas Avenue, coming in from the south, and found my house. I’ve been married almost 18 years and can honestly say my wife wasn’t more beautiful on our wedding day as when I found her and our four kids safe in the front yard, listening to the radio of our newly dented Ford van. I couldn’t hug her tight enough. Later, my 11-year-old son told me he couldn’t understand why mom hadn’t cried during the storm but started crying when I got home.

My wife told me she’d gone to the hallway, pulling blankets and the mattresses from two cribs on top of them. She told me she heard the freight-train roar everybody always describes and that she thought at the time about how unprepared she was for such a disaster.

Our house took a hit. The support posts on our front porch were damaged, while two of the three posts holding up the back porch were sucked out, one lying on the ground like a dead soldier. The vinyl trim of our brick home is gone in a lot of places. Tree limbs were everywhere. As I was pulling down broken branches in the back yard I realized there was another limb sticking up from a hole in our roof. The fence around the house is gone, so my dog is on a tie-out chain, but neighbor dogs come to visit him often.

Friday morning, I rushed to Wal-Mart with my oldest son to stock up on batteries, a propane stove, hurricane lanterns and battery-powered fans. Electrical lines lay all over our back yard until Sunday afternoon. When the sky darkened again on Friday, we watched the tornado coverage on a four-inch black-and-white battery-powered television.

I don’t like heights and had never operated a chain saw. On Saturday, I spent a good part of the day on our roof with a chain saw, cutting a large part of our oak tree into small enough pieces I could carry it to the edge and throw it to the ground.

The May 8 tornado experience was a bad ordeal. However, as I learned on Friday morning when I walked around the neighborhood, my family was incredibly lucky. Houses within a couple of blocks to the southwest of us are destroyed. Beginning just seven houses north of us, there is total destruction. Sagging porches, a hole in the roof and fences gone MIA are trivial when compared to the losses of my new neighbors.

The power came back on Sunday evening and I wanted to rush out to the fleet of OG&E trucks and thank them all for spending Mother’s Day restoring my air conditioning. I might have invited them to a barbecue, but it was too late for the half-side of beef in the freezer.

Usually, it takes a while to meet new neighbors. But now, we gather in the street to talk about getting through the disaster while we wait to see what insurance providers and the Federal Emergency Management Administration will do to help us get our lives back on track. Hopefully, the bad part is over.

Well, FEMA did shit for us. I guess some neighbors got federal help, but we got squat. And, what’s not mentioned in the column is that my salary at The Journal Record was pitiful and came on the heels of three months of unemployment. My JR salary was over $30,000 a year less than I was making when Conoco was possessed by Phillips and my job eliminated. Why does that matter? Well, moving from Ponca City to Moore was expensive, especially for somebody coming off unemployment. The new house was a bedroom short, so we had to convert the garage to a bedroom. How’d we do that? Partly with the insurance money we got for the storm damage. Oh, we got everything fixed that needed it, but some of the stuff I’ve been working on myself as we can afford it, namely the back porch. Of course, that’s holding up replacing the missing siding, so the house still doesn’t look real good. My goal is to have everything finished this summer.

Now go buy my book! I need those royalties. hehe


0 responses to “CttH @ Amazon.com”

  1. I remember it well. I think we even joked about “Tornado Alley” when you were moving in. When you returned my call the next day I was renting a movie. By the time I finished watching it I was taking shelter on my side of town. Crazy week.
    Ready for more?

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