May 24, 2011
Tornado!
Posted by Gordon Smith

All of the dreadful news about tornadoes in the Midwest brought back childhood memories of sitting in the basement of our Wisconsin home, waiting for my world to crumble around me. For me tornadoes were not just an imaginary concern because a tornado actually struck our family farm when I was about eight years old.

On that occasion -- in the middle of a summer night -- I wasn't in the basement, but in the upper bunk in an upstairs bedroom. I didn't know about the tornado until morning, several hours after it touched down. When I awoke, my older sister was in the bottom bunk, which was unusual because that bunk belonged to my brother, who was away at college. I said, "What are you doing in here?"

"Our barn was blown down by a tornado."

I didn't believe her, of course, so I ran out to the hallway, which had a window facing the barn. Or, rather, the place where the barn used to be. It looked like photos I had seen of buildings that had been bombed in WWII. Fortunately, the walls of the bottom floor of the barn were made of cinder block, which withstood the tornado, and all of our animals were safe, if a bit scared.

Later that day, our farm was swarmed by neighbors who came to help us clean up. They offered to help us build a new barn, but we ended up just selling the whole farm and moving to the City of Osseo. The scariest part of all of this was finding the rail from the hay mow buried six feet into the lawn just a few yards from our house. It had been flung like spear about the length of a football field and deposited there by the tornado. 

And that's why I always went to the basement when the siren for a tornado warning sounded in Osseo.

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