Saturday, September 24, 2011

NOTM: Man's Life Changed 10 Years After College Park Tornado

Rockville, MD - Ten years ago today, a tornado ravaged College Park and the University of Maryland family.  Morris Herlis (MH) was living in his fourth floor apartment at University Courtyard with his roommate when a typical rainstorm came rolling through.  They left their rooms to take in the sights of lightning and sounds of thunder from the safety of their balcony.

That's when the rain started flying sideways and the afternoon sky turned dark.

After Morris' roommate found the wind too strong to make it safely down the exterior stairs, they convened at the kitchen island, holding on while their entire building swayed and creaked.

"Oh yeah I was scared.  I'm glad I went to the bathroom before the storm or it would've been a mess," Morris said over a 32-ounce blueberry Slurpee.  He contacted News of the Minutiae (NOTM) to explain how his life was impacted by the tornado.

Give a man a Slurpee and he'll talk a long time after the brain freeze.

NOTM: What damage did you see after the tornado?

MH: One car was flipped over, another was leaning next to a building.  My car's windows were gone and my other roommate's ceiling had a hole in it.  Lots of other buildings were messed up.  I even had to throw away a gallon of milk.

NOTM: Were you in shock afterward?

MH: Oh yeah, how I viewed my time on this planet was forever altered.

NOTM: Can you tell our readers in what ways?

MH: Well, back then, I had no cell phone.  Without that tornado, I may never have bought one.

Imagine a world before you could play Angry Birds.

NOTM: Did the experience cause you to live life differently?

MH: Oh for sure. Nowadays I double-knot my shoes, sleep with two pillows, and clean the dryer lint trap more frequently.

NOTM: How has your life changed in larger, more meaningful ways?

MH: My life these days is full of inane Twitter updates, empty Google alerts, and inconsequential Facebook statuses.  It was rough back then, we had none of those. 

NOTM: How ever did you survive the change to 2011?

MH: That's what I mean. My life wouldn't have been the same without this tornado. In fact, I no longer use my finger to clean out ear wax; I use cotton swabs.

NOTM: Sounds rough and off-topic. Have you become thankful each day you're alive?

MH: Sure, but only when someone asks me that.

NOTM: Does your level of fear increase when a tornado watch is issued for the DC area?

MH: I take it more seriously, but nowadays I fear losing my iPad, forgetting a 9-iron on the golf course, and fitting into last season's bathing suit.

NOTM: Right. Ok then. Other people volunteer their time after learning how precious it is, but you don't seem to have had such a life affirming experience.

MH: I don't regret it when my day is spent playing PS3 in my boxers, eating Lucky Charms, and drinking root beer. It's a bit cliche when someone says they live every minute to the fullest just because of a life event.  Eventually we all regress to lazy Saturdays.

NOTM: So you're saying that bad stuff happens to everyone and it's often out of your control, but what matters is how you deal with it?

MH: Precisely.  Like when you run out of body wash and improvise with shampoo.