There was a huge tornado in this area four weeks ago, and I was in it. It was a most frightening experience. I was returning home from campus, and it ended with my car being spun 360 degrees and tossed off the road along with the meal of fries I had just bought at McDonald’s. (It gives a new meaning to “taking the car for a spin”, doesn’t it?) Luckily I wasn’t hurt, and neither was the car. But by the time I read the news and saw what it had done to the airport in St. Louis that same night, I knew how much luckier I had been. It moved planes and cars, broke glasses and knocked down electric systems. Since then I’d sworn never to ignore tornado alerts.

The biggest storms I’ve ever experienced in Nigeria usually happened at night. There have been tornadoes but they are rare and spaced out so I’d never actually been in one. They’re deadly nevertheless. Imagine walking in the rain at night and have the wind throw an aluminum roof straight at your jugular or at your car while you drove. Just a few years ago, father went to bed in a large house of two storeys and woke up with an open roof. The whole roofing frame had been moved a few miles down the street. My grandfather’s house once suffered the same fate many years later.

The houses in America are built differently, it seems, and thus suffer a seemingly greater damage. Then there is the powerful wind running at such speed that can wreck anything in its way. Two days ago, another big stormed roamed this parts and killed about 117 people from Missouri to Minnesota. Pictures from Joplin MO looked like a war zone. When people say “be thankful for little blessings”, I guess they mean that one should be grateful for not being in a place like this when the storm comes. It is a frightening, and often devastating experience.

UPDATE: President Obama has promised to visit the town on Sunday.

 

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