Monday, April 25, 2011

Another kind of vigil

We've been hearing for the last few days about a big severe weather outbreak early this week.  Tonight we got the first wave of it.  Sirens went off in Conway four times; we spent about an hour total in our "safe place" interior bathroom.

Elsewhere in our county a big tornado tore through a town, it appears.  I find it strange that I now look at tornado forecast tracks that go within ten or fifteen miles of my location and feel quite reassured.  And while I spent a total of three hours refreshing the #arwx Twitter stream and carefully parsing the National Weather Service's warning language, I felt less panicked than I used to at these moments.

I have contingency plans, so I don't worry about what I'm going to do if various dangers threaten.  (Instead I worry that I've waited too long and it's do late to put the plan into effect.)  I have flood insurance and good homeowners and even earthquake insurance that won't do me a bit of good unless the New Madrid fires up for the big one.  I know where I'm going to take the kids if the waters rise, and how I'm going to get to the unflooded part of the street (cut across the neighbor's lawn).  There's a first aid kit in the car, along with a change of clothes and toothbrushes for everyone.

But I hate having to be on alert and wish that I could rest easy under the mistaken assumption that there's no danger.  I remember when I believed that tornados couldn't touch us because our hometown had magical geographic properties.  Part of me wants to move back to a place where I could pretend that was the case.  And would the outcome be any different?  Only if I'm unlucky enough to be in the path of a storm that destroys my house and threatens my life.  If I'm part of the other 95% of the population and aren't in that path, I end up with the same result whether I take precautions and stay alert or whether I don't.

Not that I'm going to stop taking precautions.  I'm too much of a control freak for that.  But it disturbs me that none of my exercise of control really matters, most of the time, when it comes to these massive acts of nature.

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