The Tornado and a Vase Full of Flowers

Thirty years ago fourteen tornadoes swept through Southern Ontario, Canada in a six hour period. They left a trail of death, destruction, fear and shock. The city of Barrie was the hardest hit.

I was one of the young and naive volunteers that responded that night. The Canadian Red Cross had immediately opened a communications centre in Toronto. Short wave radio operators sent updates as we handled the influx of calls. People from around the world were phoning in after their news media reported the devastation. They were worried; they had been unable to contact their loved ones living in what they understood to be the disaster zone.

Late that first night, a small team of us drove up to Barrie to gather some firsthand knowledge of what had happened. We didn’t see much; the area had been cordoned off and was patrolled by the military. The whole thing was surreal. I was awe-struck.

One of images that has stayed with me to this day is the razor like sharpness with which the tornado struck in certain places. It was something I could not explain. There was a house, the back wall gone, yet nothing – and I mean nothing – had been touched in the room. Even the teddy bear was on the pillow, undisturbed against the inside wall.

Charli suggested to the Carrot Ranch Community of Rough Writers on February 3, 2016 that we to poke around the question of power and see where the force takes us. The force took me immediately to love. You will find my post about the power of love here.

My contribution to the flash fiction challenge incorporates both these forces: love and nature.

***

Gerry pulled Maggie closer. The floorboards rattled above them.

Their living room window shattered, walls crashed and Maggie’s heart sank. The roar of pelting rain continued. Then came silence. Deafening silence.

“Let’s go,” said Gerry getting up. Together they gingerly climbed the basement steps and entered what once was their kitchen.

Maggie grasped Gerry’s arm as she looked around in horror. Suddenly she giggled.

“Look Ger!”

She pointed to the vase full of flowers and their wedding photo on top of the bedroom dresser, both untouched by the storm. “Even the tornado had some respect for love. Imagine that.”

***

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17 thoughts on “The Tornado and a Vase Full of Flowers

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  1. I experienced a bit of it on my way home. I called hubs to tell him I was going to be at least an hour, the snow was pelting and I was going very slow on the highway. Less than ten minutes later, no more snow, the ground was dry, and I speed picked up. Crazy. Great post.

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  2. Fascinating story! Yet, it’s similar to forest fires that burn communities. They say the fires burn in varying levels of severity and they burn in a mosaic. My parents fled a forest fire after I had left home and when they returned, the small community was leveled, houses burned to the ground, except theirs. It stood untouched. Scientifically, fire requires both oxygen and fuel. If it runs out of oxygen, it won’t burn the house or patch of trees it blows through. So weird! But so similar to what you saw of the tornado’s selective destruction. Love how you treated the story in flash!

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    1. Fires are also frightening! Interesting that scientifically they say that a house was spared because there was no oxygen there. Like a tornado with its many facets, a fire has more forces at work than just the flames. Let’s hope this year the fire season on both sides of our border will be more tame than last year.

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  3. Curious about the tornado leaving one part of the house completely undamaged. I can think of a much earlier example of something similar. When Wardour Castle was attacked during the civil war a mine was exploded under the castle demolishing one side of the building. This happened just before dawn and the garrison commander was in bed. He was awoken by the noise, wondered what had happened then realised that there was no wall at the other end of his bedroom! His room was otherwise undamaged.

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    1. Yes, I can’t explain it either. Mostly what the media shows after a tornado is the total devastation – that’s sensational and captures the audiences hearts. And it is heart wrenching. I have seen a rare photo showing what I saw, but I I don’t think the media shows these because it really does become too personal. I found your story about the mine explosion fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I have gratefully not been in the direct path of a tornado – only on the outskirts – twice. The time I mention in Ontario and then years later, when my husband and I were vacationing in Florida. The first time was exciting. The second time was frightening. The more older and wiser me was too aware of power behind the storm. The pressure is so intense – it feels as if the walls of the house and roof want to buckle. And the roar coming from outside is deafening.

      Liked by 2 people

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