This morning the intercom went off just before the mid-morning break. Tornado Warning, places in the halls. I had a student actually wait to finish typing & print a paper, so it was a few minutes before I joined my student aides Austin and Emily downstairs. Another former student had been tutoring math students in the small conference rooms, so the four of us chatted about last April's storm until the lights went off.
We had been in the hall in the dark for almost an hour when we were told to turn towards the walls and cover our necks. My assistant principal squatted beside me, one of my aides on either side of us, at the end of a hallway, and the interior doors all began rattling, banging, and anything affixed to the walls or ceilings started blowing down the corridor. There was a terrible roar for about fifteen seconds. One of my aides kept asking "What's happening?" and the other kept repeating that his life was flashing before his eyes.
When the noise stopped, you could see daylight where the drop ceiling had collapsed and the roof was gone above it. My AP asked if I felt "glue" on my head and I worried that she was bleeding because she was hit with some of the ceiling, but I think it was just the dust in the air, the same thick black dust I later realized had gotten under my fingernails.
When people started moving around, I went up stairs to check the library. It was, amazingly, intact. I had just walked through a school littered with debris and seen the blown-out window at the end of the hallway, and then the old farmhouse across the street from the school had been demolished, and I didn't even see the barn. Eventually, I looked towards the faculty parking lot and realized my car, like many there, was totaled. It looked as if a dumpster had been picked up, smashed against the row of cars, and deposited in the field across the street. The damage to my car was so bad that the head custodian told another teacher her white Toyota had been totaled, since you could mistake my Prius for her Pathfinder.
The roofs around the campus are gone, so there's no telling when we'll be back at school. Again, the cell phone grid froze the minute it all happened, making communication practically impossible. The tornado picked up my Royal Doulton mug from my cup holder, filled it with dirt, deposited it intact on my floorboards. Strange stuff. But, miraculously, no one was hurt, which makes me giddy with relief.