Yazoo taught me to look for the sun
As if we could forget, my family and I were reminded last weekend about the anniversary of the deadly tornado in Yazoo.
It seemed like we were almost in the midst of repeating history as we made our way back home from our vacation in the mountains.
After a stay in Gatlinburg, Tenn., we made our way back to Yazoo with an eight-hour drive through several states. Being eight months pregnant, I wasn’t exactly too comfortable. But I was ready to get the long trip over with and arrive safely back at home.
As we entered into Alabama, the heavy rains developed into hail as it pounded down upon our car. Our son James was in the back seat with my Momma, and I could tell he was starting to get scared. Pulling under a bridge for safety, we waited until the hail storm passed.
I began to feel a little sick myself, but I assumed it was from the long drive and all the other effects that come with pregnancy. Easing off the interstate, we stopped at a gas station to refuel and take a break.
And then there was that stillness in the air that I could remember from the destructive Yazoo tornado. Looking out the car window, it turned pitch black and clouds began to swiftly move closer to the ground.
When I saw my husband Jason jump back into the car, I knew it must be getting serious. In the distance, you could see clouds started to take that funnel-like pattern.
Jason, James, Momma and I were ready to get out of there. Hitting the interstate again, warnings began to flash over the radio. As the tornado warning rang out over the airwaves, we realized we were entering the same county we were being told to stay out of.
There was a time when tornado warnings never scared me, but that was before April 24, 2010. The Yazoo tornado made a believer out of me when it comes to taking warnings seriously.
We weren’t quite sure what to do, but Jason was determined to head toward the sunlight a few miles ahead of us. The car began to shake with the force of the winds. It was pitch black around us. And the clouds were putting on some sort of performance in front of us.
We finally made it into some clear weather. The winds died down, and the rain became bearable.
“I’m just glad that is behind us,” Jason said, looking into the rear view mirror.
Behind us, I could see the darkness. Although it was around lunch time, it looked like it was the dead of night.
It dawned on me as we continued home that the one year anniversary of Yazoo’s tornado was just around the bend. And looking at news reports later that evening, I could also see that other towns and other communities were experiencing what we did a year ago.
Looking at the wreckage and other news reports when we returned home, it seemed as if the entire southern region of the country was tornado valley. It was similar to Yazoo’s story, only a different place and a different time.
Arriving home from the storm-filled travel, I was also reminded of how April 24 changed my thinking for the rest of my life.
I take warnings seriously now. I cringe at the sight of low clouds and that eeriness that comes right before the storm.
But just as we made our way into the sunlight during that trip, I was reminded of how bright the future could be.
Talking with Yazooans and looking back over tornado coverage, I see just how far we have come from last April.
And fleeing another storm system last weekend showed me how quickly it could happen again.
I may always be scared of the storms now, but I will never fear the break in the clouds. Yazoo taught me how to look for the sun.