As you may know, we moved to Montgomery from Tuscaloosa, which is even more firmly planted in what is affectionately known as “the tornado belt.” West Alabama is the easternmost stretch of a part of the United States that runs all the way to Oklahoma or Kansas or so, where climate conditions are perfect for twisters. But that isn’t to say that tornadoes hit a wall in Tuscaloosa and don’t form any further east. In fact, the highest-profile Alabama tornado in recent history was the one down in Southeast Alabama, in a town called Enterprise, where a high school was destroyed.
All of that is to say that Montgomery is in a zone that is somewhat likely to have tornadoes. Not as likely as some places, but still, it’s a risk. So we’re OK with the fact that there are sirens to alert people in case said tornadoes form.
But on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009, we wished that there were no sirens. Or more specifically, we wished they would stop working. Sure there had been bad weather on Friday. Sure it rained through the night. But Mother of God. We just wanted to sleep in on a Saturday morning.
There are no tornados! There might have been one harmless one for a few seconds north of the city sometime yesterday afternoon. Does that mean we need air raid sirens 14 hours later? It’s like being in Dresden in 1945 (minus all the death). It adds an apocalyptic feel to a city that really ought to be trying hard to avoid that sort of atmosphere (given that there’s already plenty of boarded-up buildings and trash-filled lots). And it’s dangerous — When people are numb to the sirens, they’ll ignore a real crises when it comes.