A Kansas Greeting For Mom…..#219 (the 90’s)

Tornado forming as seen from 1 mile west of Anthony

.  The sparsely clouded weather providing a warm southern breeze  massaging the landscape of the rural countryside,  not abnormal for a seasonal June day.   The television meteorologist submitting a traversing barometric high pressure,  its clockwise rotation centered in Texas pumping the warm gulf air to the reaches of the Oklahoma and Kansas.   Gary was made aware of a Severe Thunderstorm Watch being issued by the weather bureau,  a deepening low pressure system in the northwest,  the cool air converging with the warm southern flow,  a dry line stretching west of Wichita,  diagonally across the state.   A routine notification from county dispatch to the hospital and all emergency response agencies being issued, Hospital Plant Service Manager Gary giving it little thought,  having experienced thirty years of Oklahoma and Kansas weather.   The late afternoon finding a noticeable change in the atmosphere,  a line of thunderstorms beginning to form to the southwest,  the severe thunderstorm forecast being updated to Tornado Watch status.

.  Gary’s day completed at the hospital,  exiting for home amidst some scattered rain,  Jan, Sandra and his mother who had journeyed from California with the family after the passing of Gary’s father, giving some notice to the increasing thunder in the distance.   Gary making an inquiry to the whereabouts of Robert,  about his being out in the rain, when he abruptly entered thru the back door.   The approaching storm starting to make its appearance to the proletariat of Anthony,  the lightning strikes getting ever closer to the city.  Gary reassuring his mother,  the storm was a normal seasonal occurrence and would soon pass.   Then precipitously a new intonation arose from without,  a salient promontory,  the shrill sound of the cities tornado warning sirens,  their wailing resonance broadcasting a dispatch for everyone to seek shelter.

.  Jan immediately donning her coat and embarking for the hospital as required by a long-standing protocol,  Gary realizing,  he too would be following her.  When reviewing the Hospital’s Emergency Preparedness Plan as Hospital Safety Director,  he amended a Return Personnel Protocol to include the on call maintenance person.  Gary could see the questioning expression on his mother’s face as he gathered everyone to accompany him to the basement.   Descending to the lower level,  Gary disclosing to Robert, Sandi and his Mother,  he too would have to leave to fulfill his obligation at the hospital,  assuring the three,  they would be safe in the below ground disposition.  Gary’s could tell by his mother questionable expression, about being left  alone with the children,  the siren still sounding its call to take cover.   Gary wasn’t surprised at her concern,  as someone from California,  her apprehension and perception of tornado’s are perceived from movies and television,  not adherent to the occurrence, and accepted life of those who thrive in what is labeled,  Tornado Alley.

.  Arriving at the hospital,  Gary finding Jan,  as DON,  still indecisive in initiating the protocol to start transferring patients that were ambulatory to the basement,  a decision that he was content with not having to make.   The nursing staff began the aversion process,  Gary relegated to his protocol position of monitoring the south hallway, its posture enabling a view of the front and rear hospital doors and an access to the boiler room operations center which housed the emergency generator.   The Emergency Preparedness Plan requiring him to be the only employee representative to be active aloft unless an immediate danger was perceived,  then entrusted to take shelter below ground level in the boiler room operations center.

.  A thankful sound,  the wailing sirens had ceased,  followed by a brief continuous burst,  the all clear having been sounded,  Jan and the nursing staff thankful for a halt to their transfer of patients that were ambulatory.   Gary, inquisitive to the reality of the storms trepidation,  its resolution and a procrastination would have to remain on hold,  the return home a preference ,   a curiosity about his mother’s experience  being stationed in the basement of an unfamiliar house, with the sound of thunder penetrating thru the wind-driven wash of rain,  and the every presence echo of the tornado warning sirens sounding.  Betty Willson relating her experience to her son,  asserting it was without incident,  except for Robert making a reference to another lower level in the basement they could crawl into if necessary,  which she really didn’t want to hear.   Robert was referring to a covered recess in the cement flooring, across from the external entrance of a deposed coal-chute.   This quarried area another level beneath the basement cement floor, once housed the original,  but long displaced nineteen oh five  coal fired furnace.

.  Gary concluded,  the experience of the day would always be remembered,  for indeed,  the sound of sirens was a Kansas greeting for his Mother.

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