It started with the cat. Early in the morning, completely against her clock work habits, she came into our bedroom, howling. She sounded like a scared puppy, pacing around in our bedroom with her tail between her legs. Barely awake, we tried to make sense of this strange behavior.
A storm seemed to be approaching, but that wasn’t anything the cat had ever been impressed by.
Minutes later, it was us who freaked out. “Take the kids downstairs,” I screamed at my husband, and he didn’t even object. The sky seemed to be in flames from the constantly overlapping lightening, and the massive roar in the air was barely recognizable as thunder. We all huddled together, away from skylights and windows.
After Washington DC’s record snow winter of 2010 and the 4-day power outage in brutally hot weather two weeks ago, we got to experience another spectacular display of nature’s power, and a much more destructive and violent one at that.
It didn’t last more than half an hour. After that, every other house in our neighborhood had its roof smashed in by trees. We live in Rock Creek Forest at the edge of Rock Creek Park, DC’s magnificent national parkland, and most of our properties, lots of a quarter acre or less, have trees on them that are often hundreds of years old (and often rotten or hollow inside, and more vulnerable to lightening). Once in a while, we pay the price for living in the urban woods.
But it had never looked like this before. On our little block alone, we counted more than a dozen houses where the roof had been pierced, sliced of or carved in. It’s 5 pm, and for the past 8 to 9 hours, tree crews with trucks, heavy machinery and cranes have been working all over the place. The destroyed roofs are hastily getting tarped (where did all this material come from so quickly?! And all those workers?) in preparation for the next storm which is announced for tonight. A few minutes ago, just before my laptop threatened to die, we had our power restored, a minor miracle in this area.
Behind our backyard, a Chanel 9 TV crew is filming a rancher that has been buried under two trees. The owners fled with their baby before all the doors were blocked.
Pretty much everybody who could stay home has gone around all day scouting the neighborhood and taking pictures of the incredible damage. Except for our neighbors two doors down, that is. They were on vacation a day’s drive away when the ceiling over their toddler’s bed broke down and half a tree trunk poked through his little rocking chair. The next time someone tells you to rush downstairs in a violent storm, just do it.
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A * TORNADO WARNING FOR... SOUTHWESTERN CARROLL COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL MARYLAND... SOUTHEASTERN FREDERICK COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL MARYLAND... NORTHWESTERN HOWARD COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND... NORTH CENTRAL MONTGOMERY COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND... * UNTIL 600 PM EDT * AT 515 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR MOUNT AIRY...OR 8 MILES NORTH OF DAMASCUS...MOVING SOUTH AT 20 MPH. * LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE... GREEN VALLEY... DAMASCUS... MONTGOMERY VILLAGE... GERMANTOWN... GAITHERSBURG... OLNEY... PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... TAKE COVER NOW. MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A STURDY BUILDING AND AVOID WINDOWS. IF OUTDOORS OR IN A MOBILE HOME OR VEHICLE...MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.
© 2012, Catarina Bannier