hi we r ok. frankie alive n well. got house. no shutters. got roof. no shingles. big oak tree fell. fence is part bye bye. no internet or elect. no phone. got generator. frankie new house less one door. pass news to any one worried about frankie. he is fine. send carrots.
(This was the only message we were able to get out to Frankie's friends on the day of the Birmingham AL tornadoes.
There was no warning. Unless you count the Severe Weather and Thunderstorm Watch that was given at midnight. I woke up for that. Our weather alarm radio in our bedroom blared the warning waking me from my sleep. But I went back to sleep knowing that radio alarm would scream alerts all night if the weather started getting bad.
At five o'clock, it didn't.
At five o'clock when the house shook and trees started slapping the side of our house followed by the very distinct, unforgettable train two-feet-from-your-house-sound, I knew it was already too late. Too late to take shelter. What ever it was, was happening right then, at the moment and there was no time to head to the basement.
I lived in Oklahoma for almost 40 years so I have the "flee to the basement" instinct. When the hail starts, lightening flashes with thundering simultaneously, and the train sound begins, it's just too late. That morning, it was too late.
Being a dumb Okie and knowing it was too late, I go to the window and to see what's knocking my house around. Greg yells at me to get away from the windows. He is right because something is slamming the windows and it's not rain or hail.
But then I get really, really, dumb. I think about Frankie. I wonder how well his new outdoor house is working. Is it close enough to the house? Is Frankie scared? I've got to go check.
While Greg is intentionally doing something (I have no idea, I am only thinking of Frankie) I head to the back door, put my Frankie shoes on (always by the back door, always ready), and open the door.
"Wow!" I am thinking, "This is really bad and I must be nuts to be out here." This moment of clear thinking has no effect on me, as I see that our back-porch gazebo is no longer on the porch but in the yard wrapped like a pretzel on a tree, the awning torn to shreds. Nope, I keep going and rush down to Frankie's house.
I open Frankie's house left door and the wind and I have a brief tug of war with the door. The wind wins and the door rips from Frankie's house and flies to the other side of the yard.
"That was dumb, Leann," I think to myself, "Now rain is going to get inside Frankie's enclosure."
I duck into Frankie's enclosure and lift the interior lid to see how he is. Frankie is peacefully sleeping. I close his lid and back out.
Lighting and thunder cracks as if it's in my neighbor's yard. Another sane thought enters my mind. "This is really dangerous, I could be hit by lightening."
But no, I spot Frankie's door against the fence and go to fetch it. Wind is whipping around me. The trees stir viciously as they battle to hold onto the earth. I pick up Frankie's door. The wind fights to repossess the door the whole entire way back to Frankie's house. I manage to hold onto it.
At Frankie's house I try to force the door back on. I need a crow bar or something to lever it on. Another thought beams through my mind, "I am really wet." I jam the door into place.
Just as I get the door jammed in, Greg appears at the back door. He looks absolutely calm like he is when he is watching "How It's Made" on TV. There is no panic in his face as he looks at me. Very calmly but firmly he says, "Get. Back. In. The. House."
Good idea. What made me think I could go outside? Did I think I was going to save Frankie?
Yep. An F2 tornado swept across our neighborhood. We were lucky. No one died in our neighborhood. Lot's of people lost much more than we did. We didn't loose anything. Nothing insurance won't cover.
But Greg now knows for a fact: when it comes to Frankie, I am plain stupid.