Monday, May 6, 2019

60 Seconds

Before I go into what our Saturday night was like, I'd like to give some perspective. Folks who live in "Tornado Alley" will have the better idea of this analogy.

Imagine sitting at home, or driving home from work, when the tornado sirens go off. You have X number of minutes to get to safety, get your family to safety, wrestle the dog or cat to safety (or leave Fluffy to her fate). As you huddle in your shelter, you hear the storm on its destructive path. Hopefully, you're a lucky one, and you'll escape with little or no damage, injury, or worse.

The all-clear comes and it's back to whatever you're doing. Maybe you decide to start dinner. Or take a shower. Or go back to bed. Or, go outside to inspect any damage.

Ten minutes later, however, the tornado siren goes off again. And it's run to safety, regardless of your state of dress or undress.

Imagine doing this over, and over, and over, and over again. Day after day, week after week, year after year.

Saturday night, Zach and I were watching TV. The air conditioner was on, so the windows were closed. At about 11:13 p.m., my phone gave a weird chirp, and when I got up to look at my phone, I heard the faint wails of the siren.

I paused the TV and opened the window to make sure what I was hearing was real, immediately turned, told Zach to help roust the boys from sleep, and we had to get the apartment building stairwell IMMEDIATELY.

We have 60 seconds from the time the siren goes off to get to safety.

You try rousting kids from a deep sleep and getting out of the apartment in less than 60 seconds.

We heard faint booms as rockets from Gaza were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome. We heard a fighter jet or two flying over head.

I'll admit, we didn't wait the required 10 minutes to go back to the apartment. The boys were tired. And cold. They were wearing shorts, and nothing else.

So we went back into the apartment, the boys went back to bed, and we went back to watching TV, but this time, the air conditioner was off, and the window was open.

And 10 minutes later, the siren went off again.

I don't know how we (Israel) got to calling these sirens "red alert", but it's become part of our every day vocabulary. To be honest, I think it glosses over the seriousness of just what it represents. Let's call it what it is. An air raid siren.

The boys were cranky about having to get up again (can you blame them?), but I was much happier about that than having to face a panic attack from one or both (could you blame them?). They were still in shorts, and I foolishly didn't think to tell them to put on a shirt and sweatpants as we all went back to the apartment.

TV show was over, it was now 11:30 p.m., Zach and I went to bed. We had the air conditioner on in our room, but I also left the window open a little so I could hear the air raid siren. And just as I was finally falling asleep, at about 11:55.... another siren.

Lather rinse repeat. Only this time, about 2 minutes after the first siren, came a second. At least this time we were still in the stairwell. As the times before, lots of booms as rockets from Gaza were intercepted. The building DID rattle a few times from the concussive force, and we did hear a larger explosion which meant a rocket landed somewhere in the city and hit a building of some kind (high school cafeteria was hit about a 20 minute drive from our place).

THIS time as we were heading back into the apartment, I told the boys to change into a t-shirt and sweatpants. Thankfully, the rest of the night was quiet.

This photo is of Zach and the boys, during siren 2 or 3-4. I didn't feel comfortable posting it with them half dressed, so I censored it a bit. There's nothing censored about their expressions, though.