Spring on the prairie means the arrival of wildflowers, blue birds building nests in the boxes we built, new baby calves and in Oklahoma, Spring also means the arrival of tornado season. We do have tornados in every month of the year. I have seen very destructive tornadoes in December. But our main time of the year is from April through June. Because Spring has arrived early this year, I am preparing early.
We are fortunate to have an underground cellar next to the house. It would be nice to have a safe room in the house. We have an older home that we added a cellar after the F4 tornado in Moore, OK on May 8, 2003. Moore was devastated on May 20, 2013 by an F5. F5 is the maximum rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. There were 24 deaths and 212 injuries. Sadly 7 of those deaths were at an elementary school.
Even though Oklahomans have got used to this as part of our life, tornadoes are serious business. Being prepared and knowing what to do during a tornado is a must. We live in a rural area where there are no tornado sirens blasting to warn us like there are in the towns and metropolitan areas. Fortunately, with modern technology and improved weather forecasting, it’s easier to keep a heads up to deadly weather.
I recently cleaned our cellar to make room for my husband and I, our 2 dogs, as well as close neighbors who sometimes join us, along with my son and his family when they are visiting. It does get a little crowded sometimes! This picture is before cleaning!
The cellar is used to store canned goods, extra water and important papers. It’s also a good storage area for potatatoes packed under straw. The cool consistent temperature underground is ideal for food preservation. I’ve never had a potato go bad this way. When I find a good sale, I can stock up. Last year I experimented with pumpkins and green tomatoes in the same manner. The pumpkins looked good for several months but when I tried to blend the pumpkin meat it was dry and stringy compared to the freshly picked. The tomatoes did ok, but I should have floured and froze them for fried green tomatoes, yum! I had a busy garden season and was over run so I got lazy. Other items in the cellar not shown: folding table, folding chairs, emergency weather radio that can be ran on batteries or hand cranked, plastic cups, several gallons water, snacks and coloring books and crayons for the grandkids.
Before we had a cellar, we would go to the central location of our home without windows and have a mattress handy to keep protected from flying objects. Fortunately, we’ve never been hit but have had some scary weather close by.