Saturday, June 28, 2008

Blowing' In The Wind

You can just imagine a newscaster saying it: "The Olympic Trials blows through town on the heels of a 100 mile-per-hour storm that's literally ripped off part of the Qwest Center's facade."

Maybe you heard, maybe you didn't. This nasty, and I mean NASTY storm came careening into Omaha Friday night before Trials, damaging the building and forcing everyone inside to evacuate. I wasn't even in it, though.

Five minutes before the storm hit I was out on the street looking for a burger or something to eat. I was on the phone with a friend of mine when sirens started sounding. Not ambulance sirens but TORNADO sirens. I told my friend, "That can't be good," so she checked the radar and let me know that a storm was moving in. Me, I still wanted that burger.

Keeping a wary eye on the approaching darkness I found this neat place and pulled inside. Sipping a soda I noticed the local meteorologist on the TV. The sound was turned down so I couldn't hear him, but I didn't need to. His sleeves were rolled up. We all know that when they do that there's some serious weather. When a meteorologist rolls up his sleeves you'd better look out. A house might land on you or something.

So there he is, sleeves rolled up, red map, and these huge circling graphics on the map that I took to indicate potential tornados. I can't write what I started thinking! Then I see that all the other people at the restaurant were staring out the window. I turned around and the only word I can use is "chaos." The wind was so vicious I could actually see it! Two-inch hail was pounding everything in sight. I was transfixed. So transfixed, actually, it didn't occur to me that I was the only person sitting on that side of the restaurant. It appears that the locals knew something I didn't: Storms like this can take out windows.

Well, the windows were fine and so was I. After it blew over I left and walked back in what felt like a different city. The sidewalks were covered in leaves and fallen branches. An arts festival a few blocks away was decimated. I got the feeling I'd turn a corner and see a house with a pair of ruby slippered shod feet sticking out the bottom, that's how sure I was there must have been a tornado. But no witch. This wasn't Oz. I was still in Nebraska.

It wasn't until I got to the Qwest center that I saw the damage here. Incredible. I listened to Aaron Peirsol saying that he had to run out the second floor with his bag over his head because water was coming through. But all is now well.

Gotta run. Hope you're all having fun.

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