It’s the summer of ‘78 in the Outer Banks, I’m just finishing up my breakfast while mom begins cleaning up after the entire family. She begins stacking dishes and moving leftovers to the counter. I rise to help her clean off the table. As mom is hand-washing the dishes, she pauses and gazes out at the ocean through the large window above the sink.
“Oh, look!” Mom says, in a pleasant, but surprised tone. Moving towards the window above the sink, I expect to see a rainbow or a flock of seagulls above the water. To my surprise, I watched a water spout rise up out of the water. Mom tried to continue to finish the dishes, but continued to stare at the ocean in awe as we watched the tornado come towards us. Panic struck the house, but Mom reassured us that we would be safe.
Crowded around the kitchen sink, Dad tried to take us kids into another room to protect us, but Mom’s intrigued gaze on the natural disaster kept frozen in place. We witnessed the spout meet the shore a few blocks north of us. Quickly after the tornado reached land, we saw debris fly off a home not far from us. At that point, Dad began to panic.
Dad yelled, “Michael, Alison! Get Kathy and Danielle away from windows, now!” At this point, I barely heard what was being said around me and Danielle began to tug on my shirt as a cue to leave; I just couldn’t lose focus on the tornado. Mom laced her fingers with mine to let me know that I could stay next to her, that I was safe next to her. Minutes passed and the tornado was finally out of sight.