Preparedness is the key to the passage to safety when it comes to tornadoes but sometimes the best plans go awry. Tornadoes are sudden, unpredictable, and early warning systems can go terribly wrong; an example, being turned off?
We have a plan, a well rehearsed plan. Of course the first order of business is getting humans to safety. Now it is just the two of us living in this big old house but in previous years we had a 80+ elderly person, five adults and two babies plus all my animals. We had a plan for each.
If the upstairs bedroom doors are closed the hallway is a reasonably safe place if we can’t make it to the basement or if we can’t get the animals to the basement. One of the upstairs bathrooms has no windows and has what looks like a Fort Knox Jacuzzi tub. The house was built in 1885 and is built solid.
The plan was to get the children to the basement. Next, we would get the animals to the basement or a reasonably safe place. We keep all our hard sided animal carriers (pet porters) upstairs where the animals hang out. The trick is, make sure the carriers aren’t stored under a pile of stuff or outside in the garage. We would stuff the animals in the carriers and run them down to the basement. If there wasn’t enough time the ferret cage would go into the hallway. The rest of the carriers sat side by side in the bathroom. All doors are then closed.
OK – then came an actual tornado. No matter how many times we went over the plans and rehearsed the plans nothing went as planned. My daughter was driving back from Sioux Falls and was just south of Huron when the tornado touched down. She was very close to where the tornado was. She called home on the cell phone and said she couldn’t see anything and the rain was falling UP. She couldn’t see any driveways to pull off the road - she was driving blind in a rain wrapped tornado. We suddenly lost contact with her. She had her oldest daughter with her (two at the time). We had the baby with us.
In the meantime we went into action. My husband went to the basement with the baby secured in her car seat. My daughter’s husband was sitting on a middle stair on our staircase trying to reach his wife after losing contact.
I got my mother-in-law on the way to the stairs to get her to the basement. After a five minute shuffle I realized she’d never get down two flights of stairs before the tornado hit our house. I put her in the Jacuzzi tub and tossed a mattress over her.
Now I got the animals situated. I pulled the ferret cage into the hallway. Got the rest of the animals into carriers and realized I couldn’t get them down the stairs. Again, our prearranged plans were completely thrown off. It was up to the adults other than me to carry the animals to the basement. With having a spinal disease and multiple surgeries I just can lift them anymore. So the carriers went into the bathroom with grandma.
Now, I was supposed to be in the basement and so was my son-in-law who was still busily hitting speed dial. I found I couldn’t leave my mother-in-law in the upstairs bathroom by herself. I yelled to my son-in-law to get down to the basement with the baby and my husband. He just yelled back, I’ve got to find out if my wife is OK. So I sat on the privy next to the tub trying to calm my mother-in-law down.
The all clear sounded and it was safe to come out of our safety spots. We finally got a hold of my daughter. She had passed a guy walking down the road in that horrid storm. Nobody would stop for him. She stopped and picked him up. His appearance caused people not to stop to help. When my daughter asked where he needed to be dropped off, he specified a local church. He was collecting aluminum cans for a fundraiser. I was so proud of her for not letting preconceived bias to influence her decision to choose between right or wrong.
All the animals, exotic pets and otherwise were safe but rather miffed off at us. We were thankful that the tornado never hit the main part of town.
Make plans, have everything you need ready. Even if your plans do go awry those plans will help if you need to go “off script.”
If you become separated from your exotic pets or get as much information to your local shelters, nearby shelters and any rescue agencies as possible; with your contact information.
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Book written by Diana Geiger (Me :) Paperback or Kindle
FERRETS: A Complete Guide