If A Tree Falls, Was It A Tornado?

Tuesday's lunchtime tornado took down trees and power lines, tore off roofs, sent lawn furniture flying and left thousands of Cape Codders in shock, and without electricity. The puddles and flooding were seriously deep, too. I know firsthand, because I drove through them - at the height of both Monday night's and Tuesday morning's storms. As of right now, no injuries reported. Though I do personally know of at least one storm-related injury.

My 80+ year old mom [a good daughter never reveals her mother's age] was at home Monday night, watching TV, when the tornado alert was broadcast. She's well prepared for power outages and storms, so she began to gather the essentials: flashlight, iPad, cell phone and landline, and her cane.

Then her phone started ringing. First her neighbor, then my out of state sister, then my out of state brother, checking to see if she was ok and aware of the tornado warning. I didn't bother to phone her, as I knew that she knows what to do, plus I know that she wisely does not like to speak on the phone during a lightning storm https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/lightning/faq.html When my brother called to warn her that the storm was coming, she told him she was on the floor and couldn't get up. What?! My sister had just hung up with her, she was fine!

Meanwhile, I'm at home, hiding in my closet, watching a Boston 10:00 News report, live streaming on my phone. And just like my mom, I was getting a barrage of calls and texts from my siblings to make sure that I knew there was a tornado coming, I typed back curtly and quickly "Yup in the closet can't talk watching storm approach on phone". I almost didn't take the call the second time my brother phoned. "Leave me alone", I thought. "Every time you call I lose the live stream and then have to reconnect". But I picked up.

"Mom fell. I called her neighbor who called 911. You have to go meet her at the hospital", he urged. No, not urged, he demanded. [He's both a retired cop AND my older brother, so I never get to have ANY say in anything he asks.]

"But the storm is literally landing here in 2 minutes. I can't go out in this weather! Isn't it dangerous?"

He told me "Just get in your car, and GO. NOW!"

That ride to the hospital was long and frightening. The sky was non-stop lightning flashes, relentlessly blinking back and forth between black and a purple-pink. The rain was pounding so hard that my wipers couldn't keep up. The noise was so loud - the wind, the thunder, the rain. The puddles were deep, there were tree branches everywhere. I don't know what I would've done if the road was blocked or if a power line came down with a tree limb.

Somehow I got to the hospital, and by that time, the storm was over. It was eerily quiet in the parking lot. The ER waiting room was pretty full. I asked the nurse at the counter if my mom had arrived yet but apparently, I had outpaced the ambulance and got there first. Finally she got there and I went to see her as Dr. B and nurse Emily attended to her.

They took her for X-Rays, and, as suspected, she had broken her hip. No other injuries though, thankfully. With surgery scheduled for Tuesday, and sibling reinforcements filing in from across New England, I left the hospital at around 2, and spent a sleepless overnight, texting back and forth with my brothers and sisters. Since I was exhausted, I slept in and left for the radio station on Tuesday at 12 noon.

The precise moment that the wind and rain started to pick up, I got into my car and the second tornado alert in less than 24 hours went off on my phone. Unbelievable! I was about to try to navigate another intense storm? When I should have been sheltering in place? More massive puddles, flooding, wind, and trees down, blocking roads.

As I approached the West Main Street rotary, traffic stopped, and people started making U-turns. The water was just too deep to drive through. So I changed direction and made a left down Pitcher's Way, which is where I encountered the tree limb that you see in the picture, at Scudder Ave. I'm so glad I didn't have to try to pass by it, since I was heading back down to West Main Street toward the radio station.

Long story endless, there may not have been many reported tornado injuries, but if there hadn't been a tornado warning, my mom wouldn't have fallen and broken her hip. Great news: surgery went well, and she's doing great. Thanks to the Eversource crews and the out of town workers who are on Cape to help restore power, to all the landscaping companies helping with the tree and debris clean up, and to all the first responders, including the EMTs who took great care of my mom. I hope that you're all safe, and that you don't have too much damage.

Back to the Cool Classics now - music really does heal. Disclaimer: the Cape Cod Times posted a nearly identical photo, but this one is my own, taken with my phone.

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