When your home only weighs 14,000 pounds and isn’t attached to the ground, tornado watches take on a whole new meaning. But you meet the nicest people in a tornado shelter.
I wish I had remembered to save some of the radar images from last night. All of the reds and yellows really made the pictures “pop.” My cousin had warned me about severe weather coming when we talked early in the day, and I had my eye on the radar throughout the afternoon and early evening. The tornado watch went up around 7:15 or so, and we did what we could to prepare.
We’ve long had “emergency bags” or “go-bags” with a little bit of food and water as well as first aid supplies, so we got those out of storage in the RV basement. The kids were all told to have shoes by their sleeping area, not piled by the door. Water bottles were filled up, and the kids settled into bed around 9:25. We had the radio on for music when the National Weather Service tones went off. The first tornado warning went off around 9:35, and Davidson County got theirs five minutes later.
Our site is about 50 feet from one of the bathrooms/bathhouses, so we got the kids up and headed that way. We met one other camper, waiting outside the bathroom in her car with her dog Mojito, and I knocked on a neighbor’s door as we went by. Five minutes after we got to the bathroom, Mojito’s mom stuck her head and said Nashville PD had just driven by announcing we’d get hit hard in the next five minutes. A minute after that, the campground manager’s wife let us know that the main building was open if we wanted to head that way. We decided to follow her, and in retrospect, we probably should have waited.
I got ten feet out of the door, and someone turned on a firehose.
When I was a funeral escort, I rode through some pretty heavy rain at over 50 miles per hour. At that speed, windshields and safety glasses don’t help much. You can’t see, and at times it’s hard to breathe through the flow of water. That’s what it felt like last night.
Thick sheets of rain raced across the hundred yards between bathhouse and our destination. We were spread out across twenty-five yards and I didn’t think I could get everyone back, so we pressed on. One leg-thick limb crashed down a few feet from Erica as she ran along carrying Abigail. The entire right side of my body was soaked, but the left side was dry. Such was the effect of the wind.
We gathered in the lounge, turned the TV on, and started watching storm coverage. I really have to give kudos to the weather crew at WKRN-TV2. I think Lisa Patton was running the coverage last night, and I was really impressed with the quality and detail of the predictions.
There were maybe 35 of us gathered there, including some staff. The adults chatted between glances at the weather coverage, and some of the teens got a ping-pong game going. The younger kids pretty much cuddled with the nearest adult, although Olivia and Abigail made friends with one young girl. We chatted some with Fred Stott, manager of the campground. He’s been here for three years and rode out the May 2010 floods that put his campground under almost six feet of water. That was a harrowing time, I’m sure.
We waited the storm out until about 11:15 or so and decided the worst was over. None of the kids wanted to walk back through the rain, so I brought the van back and drove everyone. Campground damage seems to be minimal and confined to branches down, although the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touchdown within about 15 miles of us.
We’re having dinner with my cousins tonight in Brentwood, and meeting the Gozas tomorrow for lunch. Sunday, we pull out and head west, probably overnighting in the Memphis area.
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Originally published on Bob Mueller blog