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An Unexpected Wind

You know how it is, stuff happens to other people, right? Leonie and I were jogging through the amazing parks of Washington DC when a tornado lurked just off the city, but did not touch down, despite the destruction others had wrought the day before. The threat helped us run that much faster.
By the time we got back to SA, we could watch Joplin be essentially razed from the face of the earth by tornadoes on telly.
There is a vicarious thrill to watching mother nature hand it out, a thrill tempered by fear and anxiety.
Sometimes, when dusk is settling on the highveld, my imagination takes me on a journey back through time to before Johannesburg existed as a city.
I think of our ancestors as they watched the massive storms roll in over the grasslands, and how they must have crept into shelters and hunched their collective shoulders. It is a strange flight of fancy, even for me, but it is as if a genetic memory afflicts me and I feel a deep, visceral awe at the power of nature take hold of me.
Today, massive and unseasonal thunderstorms hit central South Africa.
The rain pelted down on Jozi from about two in the morning, and by the time I dropped Luc at school, it had abated. Madeline and I followed a Citroen Club that I felt I had to speak the owner into selling. It had been my first car back in 1981. Lovely.
We failed to catch the driver – traffic – but I know that the child goes to school with Luc, so the quest is on.
Anyway, dropped off Mabs and went back home. At 10 am we get an sms from the school saying that there had been weather damage but all was okay. Odd. Leonie and I decided to go look.
Yowzer, massive trees were uprooted and a car was smashed under a fallen tree – the father and two kids lucky to have escaped unhurt, though shocked.
The gate guard – a great Congolese man called Guy – told us how they had herded the children off the playing fields and into the classrooms not 15 minutes before the wind struck.
He had been lucky to escape unhurt – he took shelter under a tree and it was ripped apart by the wind (a tornado, we later discovered) and when he cowered under the children’s ‘waiting area’ roof, it lifted and sank violently above him. Guy made a run for it, hooping he would not be killed, as his father would simply collapse at the news.
All the kids and teachers were unhurt, though there is massive damage to the school and less to a few surrounding houses.
here are some images – phone shots, sorry.

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