I was blown away

“Don’t blow away out there!” is a common thing we all say to one another when strong winds attack.

And when we say it, we are joking. After all, other than in tornado conditions, does the wind ever really blow so hard that a person could be blown away?

Well, this past week, I was.

Blown away, that is.

These spurts of windy days recently have been unbelievable, haven’t they?

Especially a week ago. That Thursday was nasty and quite unbearable.

The morning started with me diving through my yard so as to not be struck by flying shingles from my house and apparently that of my neighbor.

One of my co-workers ran outside to wrangle in a large dumpster before it created body damage to the vehicles parked nearby.

I saw a monstrous trampoline crumpled up against a house.

There were limbs everywhere and a large tree on Burlington Avenue snapped with the bulk of it landing on a nearby home.

I actually winced as I drove beneath the swinging street lights in downtown York. I didn’t really believe one of them would come crashing down – but with wind like that, you never know.

And everywhere I looked, I saw people struggling to just get their car doors open.

The worst part, however, was when the emergency call went out regarding a field fire northwest of Bradshaw.

“It’s spreading fast with this wind,” said one of the firefighters from the field.

At that point, I decided to venture out to record this massive fire – worrying about the safety of the men and women sent there to fight it and anyone who might have property in its path.

I was still miles away from Bradshaw, working to keep my vehicle on the road, when I saw black smoke enveloping the area. Vehicles coming toward me had their lights on, although it was nearly noon.

Quickly, I realized that this fire was large and it was dangerous. State patrol officers and sheriff’s deputies were posted along Highway 34 as the thick smoke made it extremely difficult for motorists to see.

I kept my distance from the fire itself – so as to not get in the way of the many fire trucks and farm equipment rigs that were racing to battle that monster.

I parked in Bradshaw and attempted to take photos and video of the blackened air that was now filling the town – even though the blaze itself was a half-mile away. But cameras could not begin to capture the falling soot, the stench of burned material or the blasting of cold air that was driving this situation.

I saw several people had ventured out to see what was making the sky dark at high noon.

“It looks crazy out here,” one man said.

And it was crazy.

Alone in my vehicle, watching from a distance as the firefighters diligently worked to knock that fire down – I actually said out loud, to myself, “I’m scared.”

I was scared – I was scared for the firefighters and I worried about the safety of the town. What would happen if that fire jumped the highway and started Bradshaw on fire?

Then the reporter in me kicked in and told the wimpy chick to suck it up, get out of the vehicle and do my job. It was time to capture what these local heroes were doing. It was also an attempt to show others the extreme conditions this wind had caused.

I put the heavy still camera around my neck and grabbed the video camera with my right hand. I struggled to open the door. The second I did, burned embers fell inside.

I walked out into a business parking lot alongside the highway and started to film the scene.

The black swirled and the wind howled.

I squinted my eyes, to try at least keep my eyeballs clean.

I tried to steady the video camera because the footage was surely going to be worthless and nauseating from all the movement.

As I tried to lift the still camera to my eyes to take a picture of fire trucks and what looked like the end of the world . . . I was shocked to suddenly hit the ground with such force it was as if I’d been punched!

Stunned, I looked around. There I was, on my backside, lying in the dirt with the smoke swirling above me.

And I realized that a strong gust of wind had literally come through and blew me over.

First, I checked to make sure the equipment (camera, that is) was not damaged. Everything was in order.

As I stood up, I felt a bit of a sting in the back end, noticed a catch in my get-along and felt a twinge of something in my left knee.

I looked around to make sure no one saw me fly through the air and land on the pavement like a rag doll — but why would they have? There was a monstrous field fire burning which was much more compelling to watch than a stupid girl in a red coat fall to the ground.

With my nose running and mascara dripping, I limped back to the vehicle where I again struggled to get that dang door open. Once all of me was inside, I turned the key and proclaimed I was going to fight my way back to the office.

Through the smoke and subsequent brown-outs caused by flying dirt, I drove east – all the while watching the black plume in the sky behind me.

I was happy to later hear on the scanner that the fire was under control and Bradshaw was safe. Their fire chief confirmed that situation later, via the telephone, and as he hung up he nonchalantly told me, “Don’t blow away out there.” He had no idea I had already experienced that embarrassing phenomenon – I just resituated my throbbing tail bone and said I’d take his advice.

This wind, lately . . . at least to me . . . is of epic proportions. After all, in all my life, I don’t remember another day in which I was actually blown away.






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