It WAS funny

Published 10:54 pm Saturday, July 5, 2014

Whenever severe weather threatens, I often think of an incident that occurred in 1997, a couple of years after Hurricane Opal roared into our area.

One April night when bad weather threatened, my mother, husband and I flipped TV channels, and tuned into the National Weather Service Radio for periodic reports.

Like everyone else, we were well aware of recent tornado devastation near Birmingham and other places in the southeast. We had just heard that a distant cousin’s wife was in a hospital with serious injuries from a tornado that ripped through Concord and destroyed their house.

Heeding warnings by the experts to figure out a plan of action when weather threatens, we decided that one of the closets in our master bedroom was our safest shelter.

Even when Hurricane Opal crashed in and changed the face of our neighborhood forever, we had felt secure in our house. While pine trees bent and fell around us from the wind’s strong force that October night in 1995, we had barely heard the noise.

That is why I had been surprised that April when we were under a tornado warning. I was relaxing in my recliner in the living room when a driving rain moved in. I heard hail pounding the roof and bouncing off our sun porch windows.

As it appeared to get stronger, we three retreated to the chosen closet with five or six pillows. It was tight in there with clothes hanging on both sides and stuff stacked on the floor. A metal rack loaded with shoes hung on the inside door.

My mother moved back and I stepped to the side as my husband entered. As soon as he shut the door, he felt the knob turn in circles.

“We can’t open this door from the inside,” he declared.

Suddenly we forgot all about the raging weather outside. We did not even hear the hail bouncing off the roof any more. We were trapped inside that closet!

Maybe our breathing got a little heavy, for it seemed to me in that moment we were a little short on oxygen.“Don’t panic,” I told myself and asked my husband what we were going to do.

“Only one thing to do, break down the door,” he said. We took the shoe rack off the door and he backed up to get some leverage. In the split seconds that followed, we all thought about the mirror hanging outside that door and hoped he would not injure himself.

Then he threw his weight against the door…once, twice, three times… and on the fourth, it flew open. The mirror remained intact, but a couple of holders attached to it dropped off.

How relieved and joyful we felt as we left that tight place.

About 30 minutes later, our daughter called to check on us. I laughed as I told her about our dilemma. “It was not funny, McGee” my husband chimed in.

It was funny only in the telling.