Storm Cellar

I was around 8 years old when Grandma & Grandpa bought a brand new brick home in the nice part of town. They had snagged one of the bigger yards in the area and spent many a day in their gardens as they babysat us during the summer months.

The greatest novelty to their house, though, was the 12-person large storm cellar. When a wall cloud appeared in the sky or there were high winds, my grandparents would lead us out into the backyard where the storm cellar was. They’d lift the heavy metal door, and we would head inside.

I remember that it was a kind of game, how quickly we could load ourselves into the cellar. We set up blankets, flashlights, and a handheld radio on the concrete benches during the non-tornado season months.

We’d get the neighbors involved during some of our drills. We understood that when the time came, not one, but two families would come to this cellar to hunker down. (Anyone who lives in tornado alley has had their fair share of confined spaces during the months of May to July.)

In 1982, our NE Texas little town was hit by a mighty F4 tornado. 10 people lost their lives, 170 people were injured, 435 homes were destroyed and a thousand people were left homeless. It’s the kind of tragedy that brought people together back then. Not long after that, storm cellars were required across every 3 homes built, because if another tornado like that hit, we were not willing to take the human losses like that again.

I’ve been thinking about that storm cellar this week and what it signifies about the human spirit. About how when catastrophe strikes, humans inevitably try to help one another and work together towards a common goal.

In 2011, on the other side of the world, I was around to see another natural disaster and its effects, in the Queensland floods. Thousands of homes flooded in the span of a day. In the days following, thousands of people returned to homes to empty it of all their contents. It was quite the sight to see friends and strangers come together to help with recovery efforts.

Fast forward to 2020, and things seem so different. That belief in the inherent goodness of people has faltered. Social media may have had its part in building the divisions amongst us, but how much of that has been social engineering? I want to believe that this darkest timeline will end sooner rather than later, but until that happens, I’ll keep dreaming about that storm cellar and all that it represents.

5 thoughts on “Storm Cellar

    1. Thanks! It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Help your fellow human in whatever ways you can, despite their beliefs or history. Thanks for reading and commenting! 😊


  1. You raise some really key questions here, Mel. I’ve been wondering similar things about our ability to work as a community, to be inherently communal. I *hope* we’ll achieve that, but also I wonder if we ever really truly had that, or whether we just had smaller communities where people had actual physical contact with each other more, and that made it more difficult to discount another person’s humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like to think that we generally want to help each other, but maybe you’re right too. I just know that this year has shown me more than ever before how unjust this world is and how deep the inequalities lie.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember early 2020 when everyone seemed so excited to make masks for each other, check in on their neighbors, and make sure everyone was doing OK. That didn’t seem to last long. I’ve never lived in a part of the world where we had to worry about extreme weather of any kind, and that plus what 2020 showed us make it hard for me to imagine that storm-cellar mentality taking root. I hope it would if it was really needed, though.


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