This is less awesome in the contemporary sense and more awesome in the original sense, as in full of awe or awe-inspiring. Roanoke F4 Tornado Footage
I'm currently working hard on my Sweet Charity fic for sparkyjoe
. She wanted a story about Dean and Sam facing a tornado from someone who has grown up in the Midwest and understands exactly what it's like to live under the threat of this kind of disaster that can come out of the blue and wreck an entire town.
It's pulling at a lot of deep memories for me. The little town where I live still tests its tornado warning siren every Wednesday at noon during tornado season, and the sound is always so creepy and alarming, even in the middle of a bright, sunny day. I remember one time babysitting a family of little kids. The wind was really high that night, shaking the house, so the kids were scared, and I sat with them up in the loft where they slept and told them stories to keep them calm until their parents came home. Later I learned that there had been a light tornado that night that tore off the tops of some trees a couple streets over from where I was babysitting. I wasn't scared at the time, too busy taking care of the kids, but to hear that later... Well, I know what it's like to feel your heart in your throat.
Another time I was babysitting some toddlers in a trailer park on a nice afternoon in the summer, and the sirens started crying, so I knew it wasn't a test. I stood outside and looked at the sky, just watching, though they said on the news that the tornado was way up north from where I was. All I could think that was if something happened down where I was, at the trailer park, we wouldn't have a basement to hide in, and I had little kids to protect. No damage came from that one, either, but the fear was there, compounded by my need to look after the little ones in my charge. There are other times I can remember herding my siblings down to the basement, dragging a two-liter of orange soda with us, and listening to the radio while they played. And that was only a tornado watch, not even a warning.
The video I linked there is footage compiled from two folks of an F4 tornado that hit my parents' hometown in Roanoke, Illinois in 2004. We have many friends and family there and visit several times a year. Soon after that tornado hit, I visited my grandparents, and my grandma gave me a guided tour of the damage. We drove in a car from where the tornado first touched down all the way to where it lifted. It was frightening and awe-inspiring. The cornfields were already recovering, mostly, but I could see places where the corn wasn't going to grow back, because it was just gone. I saw houses missing roofs, others torn to rubble.
The worst damage that tornado did was to a manufacturing plant. The tornado reached its height there, F4 strength (the highest the scale goes is F5). It hit the plant dead on. The 137 people inside only had a couple minutes of warning. But the owner of the plant had had a previous experience with a tornado and vowed that his employees would always be safe, so he had built secure shelters on the property, almost like concrete bunkers. They practiced tornado drills twice a year and trained workers to keep a watch out. Everyone got to the shelters on time.
The tornado ripped through, tossed every car in the parking lot into the cornfields, and reduced every building to tumbled concrete and twisted steel. When the rescuers arrived, they were sure that they would find bodies and many injuries. But the workers emerged from their shelters, whole and unharmed. No one was killed or seriously injured by this tornado, and that can only be attributed to Midwestern hardiness and preparation, as well as the grace of God. Roanoke was without power for three days, and everyone was only thankful that it lifted before it hit the town itself.
It's a long video--thirty-eight minutes--and you might not have time for it. But I find it completely riveting. My grandparents know the folks who took the footage and told me stories about them while we watched it, but I can't remember them now. Listen, though, for the little kid who keeps declaring "That's the biggest tornado I
ever seen!" as if he had seen many tornadoes before, lol. Also, the guy who keeps saying, "This is insane, I should not be doing this, I should turn around," while he completely fails to follow his own advice. I believe the two folks taking videos crossed paths toward the end of it, too.
And the church you see toward the middle of the footage? That's my grandparents' church, the one I visit several times a year. That's the one my parents grew up in, where they met and fell in love and were married. Seeing a tornado behind that grand building, whipping the sky into a frenzy and filling the air with debris, is a chilling sight indeed.