Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Worrying about the Wisconsin tornadoes April 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:49 PM
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FOR THE PAST 1 1/2 HOURS, after receiving a text from my second daughter that she is hunkered down in the basement of her Appleton, Wisconsin, apartment, I have been worrying.

Her area of Wisconsin has been under a tornado warning.

So, for awhile, we texted back and forth, until finally, I thought it easier to call.

She didn’t seem scared, only worried about predicted hail and about her car sitting out in the parking lot.

Me? My daughter’s safety is top on my list. She is on call tonight for her job as a Spanish medical interpreter and I wanted to make sure she stayed put.

I made the mistake of logging onto the severe weather chatline on the area’s television station, FOX 11 WLUK-TV. Reports of tornadoes and strong winds and damaged buildings are streaming in.

Minute after minute, I read aloud, to my girl, the live chat comments. Finally, she said, “Mom, I think you’re scaring yourself.”

She would be right. I’m afraid of tornadoes, which could have something to do with the Tracy tornado of June 13, 1968, which killed nine. I lived, back then, only 25 miles from that southwestern Minnesota town.

But on this stormy night in Wisconsin, I’m afraid of a tornado six hours away in a state where I know few towns by name, let alone the counties where tornado warnings have been issued.

I recognize Menasha and Oskosh and Appleton and Little Chute.

And as I read the live chat comments, I realize that half of what I’m reading may be untrue.

So I read this comment to my daughter: “If people could type only what they know to be true that would be helpful!”

For the mom back in Minnesota, that would be very helpful.

And then my daughter tells me she has to go, that work is calling. And I tell her, emphasizing each word, “Don’t go anywhere.”

I’m hoping she will listen.

I tell her dad to call her.

But before he can, my cell phone rings. My daughter was asked to interpret over the phone. But because she was hunkered in the basement, without everything she needed for work, the scheduler told her to stay put.

For that I am thankful.

The last time I checked the National Weather Service, the storm was moving away from Appleton, toward the Green Bay area.

I’ve asked my daughter to let me know if there’s any storm damage in her area of Wisconsin.

But for now, I think I’ll log off that live severe weather chat line and call it a night. Oh, and I’ll say a prayer for our Wisconsin neighbors, adding a prayer also that my daughter doesn’t get called out on this stormy night.

Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling