Well, that was a close one.
Those of us who live in Troy should be thankful we mostly were passed over by the Memorial Day tornadoes. People in Dayton, Union Township and other nearby areas still have a lot of work ahead digging out from the storms.
Somehow, you never think something like a tornado has your name on it. Those things happen to people who live somewhere else, like Xenia.
We all have our own tornado stories. When the sirens went off, I was getting ready to go to bed. My wife talked me into going into the basement to ride out the storm.
I figured in a few minutes we’d get the all clear and then I could get some sleep.
But things got uncomfortable when we started listening to the radio. It’s not like the old days when you hid in the basement and kept your fingers crossed. Now they give you a blow by blow description of where the storms are located. They talked about a tornado touchdown in Union Township and it doesn’t take a geography expert to figure out who might be next in line.
Then they mentioned south of Troy and Swailes Road and suddenly everything was really serious. That’s practically my back yard!
Right around that time the power went out. That’s always encouraging. As it turned out, the back end of Merrimont took a hit but there was hardly a branch down in my yard.
Still, I had a problem. No power meant no sump pump. No sump pump meant my basement would soon be an indoor swimming pool if I didn’t do something.
Fortunately, we have a generator for just such disasters. I dragged it out, filled it up with gas and fired it up. I had just had it worked on by a friend in Casstown last summer, and that turned out to be a lifesaver. We plugged the pump and refrigerators in and waited for the power to come back on.
I didn’t want to go to sleep in case something went wrong. So I sat on the couch and read with a flashlight. I’m working on “War and Peace.” I was set for a long blackout.
I also turned the kitchen light switch on so I would know when the power came back.
About 4:15 a.m. the light went on. Yes! I ran outside to the generator and by the glow of the outside lights at my house, which were now on, I turned the generator off. Then everything went black again.
False alarm. The power was only on for a moment. I restarted the generator and headed back to my book.
An hour later, the power came on for good. I am always amazed by the people who go out after big storms and get the power back on for the rest of us. I know it’s their job, but it takes a special kind of person to do it.
We ended up being very fortunate. I have friends who ended up with a foot of water in their basements. That, of course, is nothing compared to the destruction that happened just a few miles away.
I remember when the Xenia tornado hit back in 1974. I was a senior in high school then and it seemed strange that there could be so much devastation just down the road while it was just another sunny day for me. After that tornado, cities all over this part of Ohio started installing warning sirens and conducting educational campaigns about what to do in inclement weather. I have to believe those changes, plus the play-by-play tornado account provided on TV and radio, helped keep injuries down this time around.
In the end, a tornado (or 15 of them) serves as a powerful reminder of both our fragility and our endurance. There are some things in this world we have no power over and cannot do anything about. At the same time, our response to those disasters can bring out what is best in the human character.
Thanks to the first responders, the rescue workers, the broadcasters, the volunteers and the agencies that work to help everyone else get back on their feet. The storms can be terrifying but the real story is how we all pull together to carry on.
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.