Tornado bunker

Its been a rather uneventful time in nebraska so far, minus the few water parks we have stopped at, that many little towns seem to have at their city parks.
The monotony stopped yesterday.
Johnny, our current runner is battling severe shin splits, so much that his right leg is red and swollen. I took over 17 miles for him yesterday to get to the 35 mile mark, and to let his leg rest up a bit and allow him time to ice. I started my run at about noon, when it was already 89 degrees. most of nebraska had a wind warning at the time, and rightfully so. The wind was a constant 40mph… I had to run sideways, more literally than metaphorically. I broke out the bandana to use as a face mask against the dust again, and put my ski goggles on for the blowing dust.
I checked the weather, and the thunderstorms were supposed to start around 3-4, which gave me about 3 hours to tackle the dirt roads in the head and wind.
At 3 on the dot, I finished up, just as it was starting to sprinkle. The RV was rather difficult to drive in the wind, and we were only going about 45mph on highway 80.
A half hour later, We arrived at the double nickel campground in Waco, NE, where we will stay for 2-3 nights. I checked in, and my first question was “WHEN crap hits the fan, where do we take shelter?” The owner, who was helping me, told me they had an un underground severe weather bunker on site. It was nice to hear that. Our RV site was about 100 feet away.
The wind died down a little bit, and we were able to get out the grill and cook up the first steak I have had in months. (thanks johnny!) as well as great redskin potatoes and veggies. It was relaxing to eat a home-style meal of real food with real flavor.
Midway through the grilling, a lady came over to our site and was almost frantic as she said “you need to turn your TV on!!” I chuckled to myself and told her “I appreciate the notice, but we dont even have a TV. Whats going on?” (I havent seen a TV in 3 months. If i never do again, I’ll die a happy man) “We have a tornado watch! let me show you where the shelter is!” Under the sunny skies, I assured her that I was able to find the shelter that was visible 100 feet away, and again, thanked her for the notice.
After the 14oz steak and enough potatoes to satisfy a village, it was food coma time, and bedtime. There was a hint of clouds on the horizon, and the wind was more mild than earlier in the day, but I left the shades open near my bed in case I had to look out.
At 12:30am, I was woken by flashes of lightning from the distance shining in the windows. I stared at the window, gently rocking with th ewind hitting the RV, and listening to the oven vent rap against itself with the gusts.
Normally, I love thunderstorms. In Michigan, I go out and play or run in them. Since Nebraska- tornado alley- is not michigan, I puled up the radar to just make sure of what was coming our way.
I sprang out of bed, flipped on the lights, and woke up Kendra. “what is it?” she asked in a sleepy, half-zombie voice. I just showed her the radar and said ” we have 15 minutes.”
It was a giant wall of dark red, as tall as both Kansas and Nebraska, and counties wide. Johnny woke up, and we all looked out the windows. The trees suddenly started bending almost completetly sideways. I knew I wasnt going to still be in the RV in 5 minutes, and I put on my jacket, scambling for my headlamp. from the other side of the RV, I heard kendra say “well there isnt a siren going off so maybe we are good…” which was more of a question than a statement.As soon as she said that, a huge gust of wind hit the RV, and shook us all nearly off balance, followed immediately by deafening rain and howling.
“come on guys, were leaving!” I shouted as I pulled in the slides on the RV, which would hopefully put it more on balance. I opened up the door. It opened up with so much force that I thought it had cracked our siding on the RV when it hit. Luckily, it didnt. “what about the key to lock up and lights though?” “”Forget” that! we need to go now!”
We ran away from the RV and toward the shelter as fast as our legs could take us. The door barely closed behind us, taking all of Johnny’s effort to close it. We watched the lights of the RV fade behind us, as the dim one of the shelter door seemed to never get closer. After a long one minute sprint, we arrived. The entrance of the shelter looked like your typical backyard shed, but with a steel door. I opened it up, and we made our way down the stairs. The bunker, as I would call it, was a concrete silo buried underground, maybe 10 feet in diameter. Inside, there were two other people taking shelter. They asked us how we were doing, if we were okay, etc. I was wondering where the rest of the campground was. Apparently, there is another bunker under the office, and most people had left to go there earlier in the night. They offered us the blankets, water, lanterns, and books, and E-radio that were in the bunker. Soaked to the bones, I was glad to see the balnkets. I was wearing my Boston Marathon jacket, which normally wil hld up to the rain for a goo half an hour in the rain. In the minute it took us to get there, I was soaked. I took it off, still in a partially damp hoodie. I wandered back up the stairs with a man that was in there to see if I could pull some radar imaging. We werent even into the worst of it yet, and winds were in the 80s. Lightning was spiderwebbing across the sky, and shooting huge bolts into the nearby fields, turning the sky a dull purple, contrasting the black.
I bounced a few texts past mom and dad, Ashley, and our previous segment 5 runner Kaitlyn about the status of our wellbeing.
I thought “what a great thing to read first thing on Father’s Day.” … “hey dad, just chillin in a tornado bunker, no big deal…”
The highest gust was in the 90s, according to the NWS.
We went back down the stairs, and i curled up into a blanket trying to get some sleep. I have slept about 10-12 hours total over the last 3 days between crewing, my own training/running, prepping for the next day, and now, the weather.
I fell asleep for the moment, to the sound of the E-radio beeping out a weather alert, and the ventilation fan whirring overhead.
At 2:30 johnny woke me up, asking if we should check the radar and head back.
We were in the green, which was just rain, and decided to head back.
I changed my clothes into something dry, and tossed and turned myself to sleep as the rain splattered on the roof.


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