I'm counting my blessings. I write this immediately after having seen the tornado map of the Cleburne storm issued by the National Weather Service. I am chilled to the bone.
You see, I grew up and lived in Cleburne for many years. I graduated high school there. My Mom lives there. I have friends and relatives there. It's a big part of who I am.
When tornadoes roared into Hood and Johnson counties, I was in the WBAP/KLIF Newsroom, helping to coordinate our coverage. And I was of course trying to be professional and do my job while at the same time trying to keep tabs on my loved ones who were in the path of the storm.
Imagine my fear when Chief Meteorologist Brad Barton said on-air that there was a mile-wide tornado moving toward Cleburne. It was disturbing and surreal that my friends and family were in the path of a killer.
I made contact with Mom a couple of times during the night, with about an hour incommunicado due to phone service being out. That was a tough hour.
Now, as bad as that was, it wasn't until the middle of the following day that I learned that my daughter, who is home from college, was staying with a friend in Cleburne. And that friend's home was right in the path of the tornado.
Kristen called me and told me of the horror of being locked in a bathroom with her friend, the friend's brother and their mother as windows blew out and rain poured in. She said hail pounded the roof while trees and other debris bounced off the house, cars and anything else that got in the way. She was terrified. And rightfully so.
I am thankful she is still alive. People died in the Hood county twister. Lives were changed as folks all along both storm paths lost everything.
And I'm counting my blessings that my Mom and my daughter are alive. This was an incredibly close call.
The tornado map from the weather service shows the tornado going right over the house where my daughter was staying. And it also slipped past my Mom's house a few blocks away.
As a news person I am often required to detach myself from these events. I have to think about how to cover the story and not get caught up in the emotions of it. I can't panic or get emotional anymore than an emergency responder can panic when trying to rescue somebody in harm's way.
However, when it strikes this close to home and almost takes two of the most precious people in my life, I can't help but catch my breath, hold back a tear and say a quiet thank you that I'm sitting here writing a commentary and not mourning the loss of my daughter and Mom.
That's what I'm thinking.