When we bought this house, we made doubly sure that it already had some form of underground shelter.
We wanted a pond. Tick. A small attic. Tick. Around five acres ‘out of town’. Tick. Actually, it is four. Room to breathe. Tick. 1900 square feet to be exact. A continuous corridor runs the length of our house which the dogs love to race through on a daily basis, chasing balls, boomerang toys and us. Trees and mountains. Tick. We back up to the Ozark National Forest and Boston Mountain range. We also wanted to see plenty of wildlife. Tick.
Our property sits within the White Rock Wildlife Management area. Mostly, this consists of deer in our yard, although we have seen a polecat, a raccoon, a red fox, two timber wolves and a few rabbits… so far. We have been told that there are small bears around. Sadly, we have not seen these yet.
There is a creek to cross before one can access our home. A happy bonus. It was put to us, when we viewed the place, that we could not get out… maybe a week out of the year, when the creek was up from too much rain. We preferred to think that no one could get in.
The underground shelter is actually a root cellar, but it makes no never-mind to us. It still serves the purpose 🙂 We have never used it for a storm shelter… yet. Although, just before our first spring here last year, there was a time that we almost did. I say ‘almost’ because we did not make it to the cellar.
March, 2012 and winter was still clinging on like a leach. The weather was not so clement yet, and the wood stove housed red and orange comfort, like a warm summer’s day. It surpassed itself in efficiency and we felt the need to cool off.
We stood on the porch, watching a spectacular and terrible storm. Forks and sheets of lightning illuminated the night sky in a continuous, magnificent display. Crashes and rolls of thunder, like a firework finale on the fourth of July, masked all other sounds… at first.
Then, we heard it.
I had never heard that freight-train noise before that night, but I knew what it meant, and shall never forget it.
“I think we should go back inside.” I grew more than a little concerned.
Ominous, low whistling joined the persistent rumbling, which increased in velocity until I grabbed my husband and dragged him back into the house.
I snatched up the small bucket of emergency supplies on my way through and headed for the cellar, at the other end of the house, coaxing the dogs behind me. Hubby followed, as the torrent outside whipped up a tremendous, deafening and house shaking mini-tornado.
Something fell onto the roof. Our eyes followed the sound of it in horror. Whatever it was, seemed to roll down and crash-landed at the bottom. I darted a terrified stare at my husband. His face mirrored the panic in my heart and we continued toward the cellar with renewed urgency.
The house rattled fiercely, almost taking our balance. And then, nothing. It was over.
We never made it to the cellar.
In the morning, looking out onto our back yard, I saw how close we came to catastrophe. Flowers smashed to the ground. Grass flattened in a straight line that crossed the corner of our house. The path of the mini-tornado was clear and sobering. It must have been inches away from the structure.
Gazing out of the front window, I discovered what had fallen, rolled down the roof and landed with a crash. The metal top of our chimney was lying next to hubby’s truck. The vehicle’s tail gait was dented, evidently from an encounter with said chimney top.
“It’s a good job I didn’t park it the other way on,” Hubby complained. “The windshield would have been smashed.”
We were lucky!