The Tornado

Oklahoma is a great state to call home. I love many things about the Sooner state, but not everything. Have you ever watched a tornado? Here in Oklahoma, there are people who make a living as “Storm Chasers”. Then, there are crazy people who just like to chase storms for the fun of it. I belong to neither camp. I do, however, get to see the storms as they visit us annually during the spring and early summer.
I worked late one spring evening trying to finish a shed that we needed to deliver quickly. Torry, one of my fellow shed builders, stayed with me. Together we went through the checklist to be sure nothing had been overlooked. Everything was in good shape and we called it a day. It was about 7:30 pm. I locked the shop door behind me and walked out to my car. We bade each other farewell, and I started to drive my 10 minutes home.
The sky to the north was very dark with clouds. Lightning flashed across the sky and I could hear the roar of the thunder. As I came to the end of the county road, I could see a great many cars, trucks, and other types of vehicles lining the highway. Better Barns is located about a mile off Highway 133. This highway is one of the least traveled in our area of the state, so to see that many people there was quite a shock.
I was tired and ready to get home, so I paid them very little attention. I muttered about the crazy people who should have been somewhere doing something profitable instead of taking pictures of the storm as I drove home. I pulled up in my driveway and climbed out of the car to go in. I had just got in and taken my boots off – that always comes first at my house – when Torry called.
Torry lived in a town called Wynnewood, which was about another 15 minutes past my house. I knew he wasn’t home and hoped he hadn’t had car trouble. Turns out, his wife had called him worried for his safety. She had been watching the weather reports on the news and they said that a tornado had touched down near Byars. He reassured her that he was fine, then called to make sure I hadn’t seen anything before leaving the shop. I told him that everything was fine.
A couple hours later my brother in law called me. He delivered our buildings at the time and had just pulled back into the yard for the night. The scene that greeted him was much different than he remembered it being that morning. When he had left, there were about 25-30 sheds staged waiting to be delivered. They were all set nicely in their places. Now, though, he couldn’t see nearly that many sheds and the ones he could see were scattered all around the yard.
I rushed back out to the shop. In the flashes of lightning I could see the scene of destruction. Sheds were knocked over on their sides, laying on their roof, or scattered in pieces all over. A few had escaped the storm’s fury and were only scooted a little. Our carport was wrapped around a nearby electric pole. A 12×24 repo lofted barn full of stuff appeared to have been the end of the trail for our tornado. It looked like the tornado had picked it up slightly, twisting the building in its grip, then dropped it with a jolt back to the ground.
The damages that evening cost us about 20 units completely lost and several days’ worth of work cleaning up the mess. Tornadoes are very devastating and cost Oklahomans hundreds of thousands every year. No one is glad about the damages we sustained that day. However, I’m very glad that Torry and I left when we did. About 10 more minutes at work, and we would have gotten a much closer look at a tornado than I have ever wanted! And thus ended yet another day in the life of a shed builder.