The F4 Tornado that Hit My Hometown 31 Years Ago Still Haunts Me

Paris Texas Tornado

We were lucky.

Other than some broken limbs and a chimney vent that was pulled shut, my family was okay on April 2, 1982. Our power went out for a few days, and that was about it.

Other families in Paris, Texas weren’t so lucky. Ten people died and 170 were injured.

I  recall vividly standing in the front yard of a friend’s house, watching the tornado approach us. Debris flew around it, looking for all the world like flying birds. Miraculously, just as we moved inside the tornado picked up and skipped our cluster of houses, only to resume its destruction nearby. From the safety of a hallway, we watched the monster rip metal off a horse barn. Again, miraculously, the animals were safe.

My mom, recklessly speeding in a car toward me, almost pulled over once and dove into a ditch. In that same spot the following day, we noticed the tornado had driven a huge section of picket fence into the ground. If she’d have stopped there, it would have killed her. Another miracle.

My piano teacher went to put the key in the front lock of his house only to have the house lift up and disappear. His family survived, but his child’s legs were broken. As a parent now, I can imagine his terror.

My heart goes out to Oklahomans affected by yesterday’s tragedy. I’ve already sent money to the Red Cross–the same organization that served my community so well all those years ago.

Will you join me in supporting the Red Cross in Oklahoma?

Because three decades after the tragedy in my hometown, I still feel pain when watching tornadoes on television. Sometimes I still have nightmares.

Nature, you see, is both beautiful and brutal.

And there’s a lot of work to be done in Oklahoma to put these good people on the path toward physical and emotional well-being again. They need us.


Image source (includes in-depth description of the Paris storm)


A group of Texas bloggers using the #TXBloggers hash is writing posts to raise funds. You can read more on my friend Colleen’s blog.

TX Bloggers for Oklahoma Tornado Survivors


  1. My husband as well survived a tornado some 30-odd years ago, in Iowa. He and his mom and siblings were in the basement when the house was destroyed. I can’t imagine; Chicago very very rarely gets hit, and god help it when/if it ever does.
    I’ll send a donation today to the Red Cross. Those people need so much help.

  2. We don’t really get tornados here in Australia (although there have been some small ones I believe) but there are tropical cyclones that terrorise the northern parts of my country each year. Sending thoughts to all affected, both those that are in the midst of the terrible destruction caused my mother nature and those reliving memories.

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