JUNE 10, 2010

From this Chair…

By Cloann McNall

   A couple of weeks ago when there were tornadoes in Kansas Wally Schmidt came in the office on a Wednesday afternoon to buy a paper and asked “Well, Cloann are you glad you’re not in Kansas anymore?”

   Yes I am glad I am not in Kansas anymore…for more reasons than one.

   I lived there for the first 14 years of my life and saw first hand the devastation of tornadoes that would roar across the western plains of Kansas.

    I recall one Sunday afternoon a tornado struck, just a few miles from Goodland, in the tiny town of Kanorado on the Kansas/Colorado border.

   Before a tornado strikes the sky becomes dark and the stillness casts an eerie feeling in the air. The temperature is cold in an icy sort of way and then down comes the tail of the tornado cloud, touching the ground, twisting it’s way along the ground destroying everything in its path.

   Following the tornado this particular Sunday afternoon Dad took us to Kanorado, what was left of it, and what an unbelievable sight for a young girl whose name wasn’t even Dorothy!

   All that was left of one of the houses struck by the tornado was the foundation and the floor with a toilet base standing alone in all its glory.

   There were chicken feathers stuck straight on in the trees like darts in a dart board. Everything was chaos. Debris all over. The sun came out but it was freezing cold for a summer day.

   Another time I recall being out for a Sunday afternoon drive with the family when Dad spotted a tornado cloud in the sky and we rushed to a farm house where the owners let us join them in the tornado cellar.

   We had a tornado cellar at our house in Goodland. A hole in the ground, under the house, with a wooden door built flat to the ground.

   Having experienced tornadoes in Kansas and the incredible stillness that goes before them reminds me of a trip to Mt. St. Helens when it first re-opened after the volcano blew.

   We were the first car up the road by the mountain when it reopened to tourists. Stepping outside the car I was struck by the absolute silence in the air. No sounds whatsoever. Just silence. Same as the air before the tornadoes, the silence was deafening.

   Wally said he and his wife, Iris were traveling in their RV in eastern Kansas years ago and when they heard tornado warnings pulled off and stopped for the night. He said there were semi trucks lying on their sides in the freeway.

   Smart folks! Mother Nature has a way of ruling the earth...not Al Gore.