Friday, July 27, 2012
(See Vincent's much better storm pictures in the link).
The storm we were waiting for seemed to come slowly last night. After looking at the wide band of orange and red pushing towards the East Coast from the west on radar maps, and reading about the slight potential for a tornado to touch down, I went up to the roof to check on the farm and the stability of the pots. I shoved a few pots around, herding them together, picked some shiso leaves, looked at the unremarkable, flat white sky towards Jersey, and went back downstairs to finish making supper.
We were already eating when the room turned dark. Black clouds hung above the skylights. We both rushed back to the roof, loaded with cameras for pictures. After one look I rushed straight back down again. Didn't like it. Vince stayed, with his metal tripod, and I said a prayer for him (like other Africans I address my ancestors, in this case my grandmother, whom I reserve for important issues, like finding a husband, flying planes and storm-protection).
Vince took some pictures, climbed down, battened the hatch. The sky emptied on top of us, the wind tossing the oaks across the road. We continued with supper. There was little thunder, but at one point a bright tangle of lightning broke the dark far beyond the fig tree. It frightened me, and I covered my face in my hands. Vince laughed. His back was towards it. It looked so awful.
And it was awful, we learned today. It killed a man on Clinton Street, who had been walking beside the church with the turret-like spire, the one that appears in so many of my pictures from the roof. The church had been struck, and stone had tumbled down onto scaffolding below, collapsing it. The scaffolding or stones fell on him.
We heard the sirens, above the rain. We thought perhaps branches had come down.