Poison Gas Cloud
Punky Mom calls at 8:30 and says “What’s going on in the neighboring town? I left my cell phone in my car down there and Mr. Punky went to get it and they turned him around and said the town is closed, something about a poison gas explosion.” “I don’t know let me ask Mr. Bombadee and I’ll call you back.” Moments later Dan is telling me “Aw, it’s probably just an ammonia leak, we’re fine.” and we go up to bed. Let me remind you I am not from a farm town so ‘just an ammonia leak’ still sounds kinda dangerous to me, but Dan seems totally unfazed. We flip on the TV in our bedroom and see a warning flashing across the top of the screen, IF YOU LIVE WITHIN ONE MILE OF THE SEWARD AG PLANT YOU ARE ADVISED TO GO TO A SAFER PLACE… I poke Dan again and say, I think this is kinda serious. Dan says, “Nah, the police would’ve called by now.” Then the phone rang.
Dan pulled on whatever was beside the bed on the floor and walked out the door in a crumpled pair of shorts and a t-shirt. He went to the high school where they were bringing evacuees to make sure there were enough blankets and water and whatever else they may need. There was an anhydrous ammonia leak at the ag plant in the neighboring town. They use anhydrous ammonia for a fertilizer on the farms surrounding our towns. I sat in bed watching Ella sleep holding both my cell phone and the house phone waiting patiently for my throat to start burning. I watched the news of the evacuations unfold. The gas cloud was floating south east with the wind, away from our town out into the night. Officials did have to go drive through the south end of town with Bullhorns and knock on doors to get people to a safer place they didn’t need us to leave. Dan called me every 15 minutes asking for another phone number, first the pastor of a local church, they needed more blankets and cots, then the number to the local grocery so they could get some munchies and bottled water. I sat in bed with Ella, two phones and the phone book watching the news.
At 10:30 the news was over and so was the coverage. I couldn’t believe it, poison gas roaming the country side in the night and Jay Leno was cracking jokes. I was up until 1:30 waiting for Dan and he finally made it home at 2:45 exhausted and breathing just fine. The next day we watched it all unfold again on AP News where Dan is standing in the background in crumpled shorts, bed head and his work jacket.
Small northern Illinois town evacuated following ammonia leak Chicago Sun Times
Up next part II to the Roller Derby Saga