February and March are bad months for me. Lots of year-end work in my job (my employer’s fiscal year-end is March). In my personal life as well, a lot of work to do like annual tax return filing. So, I have not written a post since January ….. it’s an excuse! I had time – I was busy with my other blog about my home island, See More Kyushu – Beautiful Southern Japan. Now it’s mid-March already. When I felt spring is near, I felt like writing about Michigan again. Then, a big and serious thing happened!
A tornado hit my neighboring town, Dexter, Michigan, on March 15!
It was totally unthinkable that a northern state like Michigan would be hit by a tornado in March.
With just several minutes’ difference, the tornado could have hit the town I live, Ann Arbor, my neighborhood, and my house (Wow!!)
13 homes were destroyed and more than 100 homes were significantly damaged.
But there was no death and no injury – this is amazing and great.
It became national news.
Here is the link to the coverage by the local online news, AnnArbor.com:
Now, all those natural disasters I have watched on TV in the past are beginning to seem very real to me.
Very few natural disasters occur in Michigan.
Michigan is not the most exciting place to live or visit (sorry, but it’s true for some Asians, particularly female Asians who grew up in urban environments) , but this is a very positive thing about Michigan – no hurricanes, no earthquakes, almost no flood, and very few tornados.
We have a few tornados almost every summer, but they are, compared to the ones in the Deep South, like babies, I used to think.
Where I live, almost every summer sirens for tornado warning go off a few times. Nothing ever happened, so over the years, we had become off our guard and ahd stopped going down to the basement (that’s what we are supposed to do if your house has a basement until the siren stops).
We have to take sirens more seriously!
I thought – maybe we should keep in the basement what we don’t want to lose, high up above the floor of the basement, so that they won’t be damaged either by flood or by tornados.
And I thought – what are the most important things for me? What do I not want to lose?
My family’s lives – yes, of course.
Then I realized I would not really care if the roof of our house is blown away, the walls are ripped, or the furniture is totally damaged. Even the jewlry I have (not much) would not matter.
It’s the old photos that I would be really bombed out if they were damaged or lost.
I have old photos my parents gave me that look like over 100 years old. I don’t know which persons in the photos are who. My spouse also has old photos from the early 20th century or late 19th century; his mother left them in our house when she sold her house and moved into a condo.
I heard that when people’s houses are wrecked by natural disasters, what upset them most is loss of their family photos. I think I would be no exception if the same thing happened to me.
I have seen on TV how the people in the northeastern Japan were always prepared to evacuate – I mean those who managed to escape the tsunami last year.
They had their most important things always packed in a few tote bags. If sirens go off, they would grab their tote bags, hold their kids’ hands or seniors’ hands, and evacuate to designated places high enough so tsunami would not reach.
The Pacific coastlines of the northeastern Japan had often been hit by tsunami (smaller ones than the one in 2011). So people had been very trained and prepared. But the one in March 2011 was just too big nobody could ever have imagined – because it was of the scale that occurs only once in 1,000 years. The last tsunami of the same scale occurred in 900s AD.
I want to be prepared like the people in the northeastern Japan.
I will think what I want to keep in my tote bags.
I have too many photos so they won’t fit in my few tote bags. Oh yes, I should digitize the old photos and back them up in the cloud storage! And I will store the originals in the basement (up above the floor).
The tornado made me think what are really important for me and what are not.
What are the most important for you?
If you have to evacuate in a short time, what would you want to carry with you?
Tornados never came to a northern state like Michigan in March before, I don’t think.
But it’s not that surprising as this winter has been abnormally warm. It’s been like May or June over the past week or so.
I heard that since 1950s, there have been about 10 tornados in Michigan in March and 3 of the 10 occurred in just one day the other day, and two of them hit my neighboring town, Dexter. Gee!
I don’t know if people will ever be able to “subdue” Nature, no matter how the technology advances.
It was just a pure luck that the tornados spared my town, my neighborhood, and my house. I am very sorry for the unlucky Dexter residents whose houses were wrecked.
I am in awe, again, of Mother Nature.