When the Hubster was looking for a new home for us before I arrived, I had only one stipulation - it MUST have a storm cellar as we live in Tornado Alley.
Well as you can see he did us proud, this is entered from our garage and even has a window, just so we can watch our home fly by!
At that point I was paranoid a tornado was going to hit us, since arriving I have learned you'd be pretty unlucky to take a direct hit! My first spring here I had a permanently packed suitcase in the house, ready to make a fast exit stage left to the cellar anytime. A few times that first year we went under a tornado warning and the Hubster would just sit and calmly eat his supper (they tend to be in the evening) with a wry smile, as he watched me run around like a headless chicken packing things and piling them up in the laundry room! I don't mind telling you I would literally get so nervous I couldn't even eat and god knows what my blood pressure was hitting.
Then I went on a National Weather Service Storm Spotter course and everything changed.
I learned the weather conditions we need in place, what a wall cloud looks like, how you get a rain-free area to the rear of the cloud base, updraft towers and formations of Supercell storms. I also learned how to read the radar and even how the air would feel to me if a tornado was approaching. The result being I learned to r-e-l-a-x - just a little!
But being the sort of girl I am, always organised and with a plan as anyone who knows me will confirm, I still have the best prepared storm cellar in the area!
This is my survival shelf! We have lots of water, V8 (for me) and a selection of tinned foods, with can opener, cutlery and drinking glasses. We also have the cat food and out of sight; water bowl, prepared cat litter and pet carrier. On the shelf above this we have Kleenex, 2 oil lamps, a battery powered light and more touch lights.
On this shelf we have blankets and pillows to keep us warm and in the other bag is a small selection of clothing for us both. We won't be the ones interviewed on TV wearing our night clothes let me assure you, or living in the same clothes for days! However I do need to overhaul this bag, as everything in there for me is now way too big and may just fall off.
In other boxes we have Christmas lights and decorations, so if we're down there too long we can even decorate to cheer ourselves up!
We have seating, although we also have 2 reclining sunloungers to sleep in (like I'm going to be sleeping if a tornado is coming!), a coolbox and a nice copper fire pit we can light if we get cold! Note to the left we have more recreational opportunities in the form of painting and swimming pool maintenance :-)
This is our entrance and exit; as you can see the Hubster is in trouble and has some explaining to do. I'm not sure how he expects us to get safely down there carrying a squirming cat each and other essentials, with that bloody ladder sitting there?!
Also above is what I affectionately refer to as the 'Divorce Door'. You see this door is attached to a heavy concrete block and you pull it closed behind you as you enter. Well last year when the sirens went off, down we went, cats complaining, me hysterical as it was the first time, Hubster carrying a table (explanation to follow) and he REFUSED to pull down this outer door. So we had a good old screaming match over whether he needed to bring down the 'Divorce Door'. In fact he left me and went back to watch the TV, whilst I called my friend in the next town, who like me was in her cellar sans Hubster who was also watching the weather on TV! It was at that point Nancy and I decided we would shack up very nicely together if our respective Hubster's were blown away.
What you do not see is the other essentials I will have packed and grabbed at the last moment, assuming we have enough warning. The trusty suitcase with more clothes, jewelry that's valuable, bag of toiletries including contacts and glasses for us both so we're not blind afterwards. Both our laptops, CD carriers containing discs of all our pictures and important documents, folder with insurance information, my purse and his wallet with money, credit cards, cell phones and all important Green Card in my case.
Then there will also be a few items I would never want to lose from the house, including 3 large paintings, the quilt I made and the aforementioned small wooden table. My brother made me this when he was 17 for my 21st birthday and not only is it beautifully made but it has enormous sentimental value. Last but not least the weather radio will be carried down there.
In case you're wondering the all important passports and immigration paperwork we keep in a safety deposit box in the bank!
So there you go, that's what a Brit' Gal living in Tornado Alley deems essential in her storm cellar. If it was down to Hubster, it would be us, the cats, maybe the laptops and a bottle of water to go round!