This post is a guest post written by Linda Everett (Grandma). After hearing about her recent ordeal, I asked her if she would share her story with the NJFM community. There’s something to be said about the determination of a freelance writer!
Writing for money generally means meeting deadlines, on time. If you miss a deadline, you not only could miss out on being paid for your work that is due, you also could be banned from further work. Therefore, it is rather obvious that meeting your deadline means get ‘er done, no matter what else happens.
I had such an occasion this past week, when twisters ran across Oklahoma near our home. We had about twenty minutes to get out of town, as the storm predictors said we were in the potential path and should take cover. We opted to load the two kids and a large dog into the car, and my daughter and I drove to southwest Oklahoma City to the home of her husband’s grandfather. He actually lives about four miles north of Moore, OK, where the most severe tornado in history caused much damage a week before.
The Journey to Safety
The roads were packed, as people who remembered the extreme damage in Moore decided to leave Yukon and surrounding areas for safer ground. Safer ground is sometimes not all you think it is, as this series of five stacked tornados hit El Reno and then, instead of staying on the easterly track towards Yukon, turned south towards Mustang. I had recommended to daughter that she drive south towards Mustang, but she opted to get on easterly I-40, which was jammed with cars. We did have to come almost to a stop once, but eventually made it to grandpa’s house after going a few miles south.
Naturally, there was another tornado that decided it should go across southwestern Oklahoma City, so as the wind gained speed and the rain began to fall, we crossed the street to grandpa’s daughter’s house, where she had an underground shelter in the garage. This was a totally new experience to me. I definitely did not want to get into the coffin-like cement box. However, as the sirens wailed and radio reports pinpointed a tornado very close to the house, we did pile down there.
Hunkering Down in the Shelter
In all, there were 17 adults and children plus 12 dogs and a pet bunny in that small 5×8 foot shelter. The kids and pets were under the stairs, and some of us adults had seats on a small ledge. It was stuffy, but we had electricity and a fan going. Everyone was pretty good, but the older girls wanted to go out and look. One of them did get a cell phone photo of a small tornado right overhead. I have never seen such whipping 80mph winds and torrential rainfall. The ditch in front became a lake and there were several inches of water on the road.
Once we decided to come out and head back to grandpa’s house, we all got soaked on the way. Then it was a matter of listening to the news about all the downed power lines, trees and debris everywhere. We waited about two hours before venturing home around midnight. Fortunately, that was not a problem; we had no detours and only saw a few trees in the road.
When we first left home, I decided I better take my laptop and flash drives with me. I had one assignment that needed to be submitted by around noon the next day. We phoned home to see if the recording would work, thus indicating power was on. It did not work. My thoughts then turned to stopping at a McDonald’s on the way to use their Wi-Fi hookup. I had finished the article on the laptop at grandpa’s house, but the battery was getting low.
We tried one McDonald’s that had lights on, but no internet and it was packed with people. Maybe if we could have parked closer, I might have been able to pick it up. The other McDonald’s on the way home was not lighted; no power. Closer to home, I was glad to see some lights on, but still wondered if we would have power and if the internet was working at home. If not, if would mean getting up early in the morning and trying to find a connection somewhere around town.
Fortunately for me, the power had gone off but was restored at home, and the internet worked. I submitted the article around 1am. This was a first for me. I knew I had to have my laptop with me. I often wondered what stuff I would grab in an emergency. At this point, that was it; had no room in the car for anything else. My daughter told her husband (who was out of town on his semi-trucking job) that I was flipping (you-know-what) about not getting this article done. I guess we were very lucky, with no major damage from the weather or hail and we had power on.
Priorities of a Freelance Writer
In view of the potential problems, getting an article in on time should have been the least of my worries. But, since this is my only source of outside income, and it was part of a huge job, I did not want to lose the opportunity. I did keep my eyes on the prize, and would have run all over town looking for internet connection if ours had been down. Maybe it is old-fashioned commitment, or work ethic, but also I hate to lose. The other thing that worked in our favor, I believe, was the power of prayer, and I was busy with that the whole time.
Linda Everett (aka Grandma)