Tornados and Sinkholes
Posted by kitkat37
I have apparently relocated myself to an extremely volatile part of the country. Atlanta, of course, was unpredictable in its own right, what with crazed AK-wielding SUV drivers during rush hour (rush evening, rush day, rush week) and the possibility that one morning you may have woken up and where your yard once was now proudly housed a brand-new twenty-store strip mall complete with a Publix and condominium complex. Southern Kentucky, however, boasts two treacherous qualities that have me cowering in fear every time I hear a rumble in the distance.
Tornadoes and sinkholes.
Many people who are not from this area are unfamiliar with sinkholes. Essentially, they are big gaping holes in the earth that open up directly into the caves beneath Kentucky, which roughly stretch to Elk City, Idaho. The entire central section of Kentucky is teetering on only 250 feet of rock. True story. Even better, Bowling Green sits a whopping 150 miles from the New Madrid Fault, which the Discovery Channel says is mere minutes from rocking the entire east coast into a limestone and redneck-riddled oblivion.
They’re everywhere. One swallowed up half of I-24 this past May. Not some remote dirt road leading to Big Bubba’s Chicken Farm and Bait Shack. A major Eisenhower-crowned interstate. Entire sections of Nashville sunk in the caves below, like one big country-fried Titanic. A yawning cavern is currently opening up across the street from my house, complete with a new baby sinkhole in the middle of it. They’ve become self-aware! They are breeding! Sinkholes will open up anywhere, without a moment’s notice. They don’t care if you’re in a trailer park out in cattle country or if you’re hanging out in the backyard of your suburban home, cooking out with the family.
Grandma: “Honey, could you bring me a hot dog off the grill?”
Little Billy: “Where’s Grandma? And when did we get an inground pool?”
The locals are unfazed by the possibility that within 2 seconds they could plummet to their dooms, condemned to warding the evil cave-dwelling humanoid descendants of previous sinkhole victims. And hordes of mutant cave crickets, which I’m convinced are the result of a covert government operation involving grasshopper DNA and a Yeti. In fact, most of the residents I’ve spoken with about sinkholes find them very handy, as they appear to eliminate the need for a trash compactor. Yes, tourists to our lovely area will be amazed and delighted at the natural wonder of our Mammoth Cave sinkholes, complete with a wide assortment of kitchen appliances and washing machines for your shopping convenience. My own grandfather owned a farm in Allen County to our south and stored a vast array of tractor tires in his property’s sinkhole. (He unfortunately was too old to know what “biodegradable” means.) In fact, last summer Allen County collected over 25,000 tires from sinkholes. Think of the tire races such a drive could support! Another local lady started a multi-million dollar antique mall and thrift store by collecting major household appliances…from sinkholes. I couldn’t make that up if I tried.
Apart from wearing a crash helmet at all times like the brother from “There’s Something About Mary,” there’s very little I can do about the possibility of being swallowed up by the caverns sitting less than 100 feet beneath my apartment. Besides, wearing crash helmets 24-7 always leads to other, crazier habits such as shouting obscenities at important intersections and collecting hundreds of cats and naming them all Fluffy, and I’m just not ready to go there yet. Give me a few years.
And then you have tornadoes. Sinkholes, I feel I need to explain my fear to the average bystander. Tornadoes, not so much. Unless that average bystander is a Kentucky native. I don’t know if it’s that hardy Daniel Boone lineage or too much diesel exhaust to the head, but Kentuckians are more afraid of New Yorkers than they are of tornadoes. Have you ever heard a tornado siren? It sounds identical to the warning bell in the video game “Silent Hill,” just before everything begins to melt and the post-apocalyptic burning monsters emerge from the walls to eat your face off. On top of this horrifying aural assault, the sky turns green. Not pretty fresh-cut-daisy green, but possessed-demon-girl-from-“The-Exorcist” green. Hearing a tornado siren for the first time is like experiencing one of the plagues of Egypt.
So what do Bowling Green natives do when the tornado sirens start blaring from every town within a five-county radius? Do they seek refuge in one of the extensive storm shelters made available in our area? Do they scream in terror and retreat into the nearest enclosed facility?
No. The idiots go outside.
I figure it’s Darwinism at work. “Look, Ma! The pretty cloud looks just like tobacco smoke! AAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!” One more ruthless-and-toothless out of the gene pool. The proudest example of this genius is at our local mall. Twice now, as the sirens have gone off, all of the mall’s patrons were forcibly herded into the food court by sheriff’s deputies like a cattle drive. Why forcibly? Because they won’t go willingly. It’s much more important to Kentuckians to purchase that pair of Coach heels because, if the F-4 comes and takes them away, at least they will be discovered in Oklahoma wearing a fabulous pair of shoes. As the sirens went off last April and no less than 5 tornadoes were spotted within 20 miles of our fair city, one woman refused to leave Lifeway Christian Bookstore until the panicked employee engraved her Bible. Can you imagine explaining that at the Pearly Gates?
St. Peter: “Why are you here before your time?”
Soccer Mom: “I had to get little Bobby’s name on his Bible before the tornado came.”
St. Peter: “We do not allow masochists here before the endtimes. Enjoy your stay in purgatory.”
We now have the answer as to where ghosts come from. Bear in mind, of course, these are the same people who faithfully, every morning before the department stores open, are waiting desperately to get in and shop, plastered up against the doors and running their bloody hands down the glass like “Dawn of the Dead,” chanting, “Khaaaaakiiiiis….khaaaaakiiiis.”
All things said, I feel I am well within my rights to be terrified of Mother Nature’s wrath upon my new home state. If I’m not getting sucked up into the void by an F-3, I’m getting sucked down into the caves. So if someday I disappear with no forewarning, put your ear to the ground and listen close, or check for a crazed blonde wearing a crash helmet in Kansas. I may be one step closer to the houseful of Fluffys.