Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Had I been outside instead of hunkered down in the dungeon, I might have seen the twister as it approached Aumsville, some five miles northwest of us. We can  pretty much see twenty-plus miles to the west from our porch. Several building bought it, but fortunately, no one was hurt. The area television stations covered the event all afternoon and well into the evening. We just don't see that many tornadoes out here, not until the last few years, anyway.

The coverage was interesting. Four affiliates from Portland were on the ground and in the sky. At first, all we saw was shots of the damage: a plumbing business and the adjacent barber shop were destroyed. A big shed had the front torn off. The police station had some damage too. Later we heard that a barn northeast of town had been destroyed. Trees across the road and power lines down. Eventually, the reporters on the ground, almost all second string players, got around to interviewing eye witnesses. And in that Aumsville is a small town (pop. 3,000 or so), names started being repeated, like the elderly woman who opened the plumbing operation with her dearly-departed in 1959.

Having an appointment to get her car serviced at the local Ford dealership, the woman was not in the shop. "Narrowly escaped," the reporter reported, this before she had been interviewed. Perhaps the townsfolk not only knew that she was where she was, but also knew the time of the appointment, I can't say. Still, such claims should be verified, and the woman was sought out, a grandchild behind her as she sat and told the story of her shop, and how God had been there for her with the scheduling of her car repair. She then went on to speak of her spiritual life. "Back to you."

She was not the only one. The town has two barber shops, the second spared except for broken windows. "I figured it was time to meet Jesus." Clearly not, yet in the spirit of his faith, said that the other barber would be free to use his shop until he could reopen. Thinking the reporter might be interested in his notice of down trees, the barber continued off camera.  Glancing back at the barber, the reporter ever so quietly said, "Back to you."

As one might expect, live coverage ended as abruptly as the storm had hit. Yet, tonight's pub tourney found the story still very much alive. The game is held in the banquet room of one of the four Chinese restaurants we have in town. As I was walking in, a guy in flip flops was coming out with bags of carry-out. I overheard him as he explained to someone on his phone that their house was uninhabitable. One player, a woman who lives in Aumsville whose house was not damaged, mentioned that she was receiving text messages from people all over the country, asking if she was OK . As we were playing, she held up her iPhone and exclaimed, "I just received another text, this one from Pennsylvania!"