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Seeking shelter

© Another Day in the Country

Well, we were in the cellar Friday night with a whole bunch of you, too, I’m guessing. We hadn’t heard the storm siren for maybe 10 years in Ramona, even longer. 

Jess already had her emergency radio on and had called me to say turn on the news and see whether we are in the path. I did and discovered it was too close for comfort — Enterprise.

They weren’t calling out “Marion County” then. That came later in the evening.

As Ramona’s siren wailed, I picked up a blanket and my phone, put on my shoes, and headed over to Jessica’s house, where there is a cellar.

There are few creature comforts down there, but thanks to Art, we do have a new cellar door that keeps out the rain.

When I arrived, Jess already was down there.

Like a good member of the Marion County Health Department, she also had her emergency bag with a battery-operated lamp, water, and a change of clothes.

My bag was back at my house — terribly out of date, with only sneakers and an extra pair of glasses inside.

There were no chairs in the cellar, so Jess stood and I sat on a shelf-like piece of concrete where a hole had been knocked in the wall to add some plumbing once upon a time.

Cuddled up in my blanket, I was quite comfy as the wind howled overhead and something that sounded like hail pelted the cellar door, which is metal.

Through it all, a weather channel kept us posted on the radio.

“Thank God for the weather channel,” Jess said, taking deep breaths to calm herself.

Living in tornado-prone Kansas, we actually are pretty lucky it’s been so long since we had to do this.

The last time we took shelter was when a distant cousin still owned the old Brethren church a couple miles out of town and we drove there and took shelter down in the basement, where we’d helped store provisions.

On the way, it was raining so hard we could barely see the road. At one point, Jess was actually driving in the ditch and didn’t know it until we caught sight of a mailbox going by on the left side of the car while we knew it actually was on the right side of the road.

That caused a wee moment of panic as we righted ourselves onto the roadbed. (I started to say “onto pavement,” but that’s an overstatement.)

Snug in the basement of the church, we felt pretty comfy and safe, and we regaled our companions with stories of sheltering in Uncle Hank’s cellar back in 2001.

It was summer, and our cousins were visiting from Colorado. Keith came barreling over to the Ramona House and said, “Mom says you girls come now; it’s not safe.”

So, we obediently ran two blocks to Aunt Gertie’s house and climbed cautiously down into her cellar.

She was ready. She had a couple of chairs down there and some boxes. But what a scary place it was. As we brushed back spider webs, wondering just what kind of spider wove them, we surveyed the boards over our heads and wondered to ourselves, would we really like to be trapped down here? Things above looked very rickety.

Of course, Aunt Gertie being Aunt Gertie, we were not going to get out of that cellar until the guy on the radio said we could. After a while, we realized that we were doomed for a very long wait in this underground horror house.

I’m not sure when Cousin Keith realized that he’d left his billfold upstairs and dispatched his then-teenage son to go up and get it. Then we all got thirsty and sent Micah up the steps again to fetch us water.

Ten minutes later, he appeared at the top of the tipsy stairs with a towel over his arm like a butler and said, “Water is served. Anything else you want?”

“Playing cards, please.”

By then, I’m sure, the tornado threat was past Ramona, and the whole situation was getting funnier by the moment.

As we climbed out of Jess’s cellar after the storm had passed Friday night, I tried to take a picture on my phone, but my sister was so eager to get out from underground that I just snapped her back side disappearing above me.

“You and your pictures,” she grumbled.

Whew, it was over, and we were safe and sound. What a relief on another day in the country.

Last modified May 5, 2022

 

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