I’ve Seen Fire and I’ve Seen Rain

I have a dear friend and colleague who gently chides me for not having a storm shelter at Windy Hill.  We live in “tornado alley” in the Ozarks, and Deacon Susan is afraid that I and C will be swept up by a twister and deposited somewhere in the Land of Oz.*

She is right, of course; though common sense and safety do not make the money necessary to build a storm shelter magically appear.  What’s more, it has been my experience here that homes are ravaged by fire far more than by rain.

Many of the homes out here in the country are tinder-boxes – cheaply built, or mobile homes.  Our fire department, such as it is, is all volunteer and lightly equipped, and there are few if any fire hydrants around.   We often pass by a neighbor’s home on the way to church and, upon coming home some four hours later, see nothing standing but a charred wreck where once their home had stood.

Fires mostly occur in the winter, when people are heating their homes with old space heaters and wood-burning stoves.  Wires overheat or a spark gets loose and the place bursts into flames in seconds.  Many local people in the construction trade claim that field mice and voles have a taste for wire insulation and chew it off, exposing home wiring and causing sparks.  Experiencing how persistent and pernicious mice and voles are, I believe them.

During the meth lab epidemic we had in the county a couple of years ago, meth labs would blow up like napalm bombs and devour entire buildings in minutes.  The local police and prosecuting attorneys lobbied the Powers That Be to restrict the sale of cold medicines used to make meth to one box per day in order to curb meth production.  Their requests where met with resistance, initially, as any government regulation is seen by locals here as anathema to life, liberty, and freedom.  When the bills for police and firefighter overtime landed on the desk of the Powers That Be, they quickly decided otherwise.  It worked: meth labs and their inevitable fires took a dramatic nosedive.

I have no doubt that many homes are damaged by storms in my neighborhood.  We just went through a sold week’s worth of rain, and many back roads are flooded out and homes damaged by falling trees.  (Tree roots are shallow in the rocky Ozarks; several days’ worth of rain can loosen them and the tree topples over.)  Yet, fire is what threatens homes around her, not storms.  I would think that, if I’m going to spend money I don’t have on something, it would be a home sprinkler system, not a storm shelter.

The ideal solution would be a fireproof, underground home, which is one of our pipe-dreams, frankly.  I mean, hey!, if we are going to spend money we don’t have, it might as well be on something we really want.

*I have often smiled over the fact that Ozarks and Oz start with the same two letters.


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