May 3, 1999 was a day that changed my life and the lives of so many people in my community. On that day our town was struck by an F5 tornado that devastated the city and destroyed the homes of many of my friends. My mom knew someone who was killed in this tornado as well. The F5 was over a mile wide and sounded like a freight train from our cellar, even though it was over a mile to our north. We even had debris like shingles in our front yard. I remember that night after it was over, and I was a senior in high school but was still too afraid to sleep alone. My brother, sister, and I crowded into my mom's room and slept that night with the windows up, so that we could hear for sure if the warning sirens went off again. Obviously there was no power, so no TV to warn us. All we heard all night was the sound of ambulance sirens wailing over and over again. I remember that the sky was brown with dirt for days afterward. Four days later, my brother, sister, and I were lucky enough to volunteer in the hardest-hit area of town, passing out water and food to people as they cleaned up the ruins that were their homes. I didn't even know where I was in this town that I had grown up in, it was that demolished. A family of five was rescued from their cellar across the street from where we were giving out water... four days after the tornado.
Ever since this day, I have had the recurring dream of tornadoes coming to get me. I have these dreams at least once a week, and it's nearly always the same: I am with my family, although the members vary from dream to dream, and I see a tornado in the gray sky in the distance. I know that it is headed toward us and we must take some course of action. In reality, I feel so uncomfortable not having a storm cellar, and there are no basements in Oklahoma for the most part, so if something huge was to come like it did on that day, you better believe I am loading up the family and driving. What's funny is that in the past three years, two small tornadoes have passed within a quarter mile of our house when we didn't even know it, and we were home. I'm not sure how to get rid of these dreams, and I'm a psychologist, so it seems like I should know. Instead, I feel stuck, so I figure I'm resigned to keep having them.