Large dust devil or tiny tornado?
It was an interesting way to start a festival that's for sure. There I was preparing the dome while the wind blew strong. I'm feeling smug that I don't have to be in the full blast of wind, here at the South Country Fair.
Then I hear a loud sound followed by someone yelling “tornado!” I step outside and see a 60' high cloud of swirling dust and debris.
I quickly reach for my phone to capture a video. A large part of me is saying “bring it on I could use the headline, which reads; “GeoStudio Only Structure Left Standing After Fair Hit By Tornado”. But in less than 3 seconds the beast is past. Not only that, it never came close to the dome. Missed me by 100 feet.
So immediately I'm off to look for damage, or more importantly, injured people. I soon discover a huge open space that was previously occupied by a vendor's canopy. There is a woman on the ground with dirt on her face, surrounded by knick knacks you would expect to find at a fair. Her look is the kind that is reserved for trauma victims. While people tend to her needs others just dive in and start picking up the pieces. Without external orders people help how they can. I get on my knees and begin filling a box with gemstones, crystals, bottles of essential oils and what-nots. In less than 20 minutes almost everything is picked up and loosely put on tables for sorting.
I then go to check the other vendor space that was destroyed. This site had clothes that was more tightly packed on the rack - so less stuff was picked up. But the devastation is no less noticeable. The aluminum scissor frames that make up the canopy were twisted and gnarled beyond use. Clothes racks were bent and large broken mirrors made the area unsafe. Volunteers continued to help, carefully and with a speed equal to any workforce. Piece by piece we take apart the framework and sort out the mess. It's at times like this humanity shows it's best side.
Within 12 hours both vendor spaces were returned to a state of normalcy. And of course witnesses who may have 'never seen anything like it before' (like myself) are left to wonder about what an average sized tornado would do. Fortunately no one was critically injured. Gratitude all around.
Gilles Leclair is the founder of GeoStudios. Somewhat eccentric, fairly environmentalist, politically aware, he believes the world should have more off-grid communities... many more.