Once back at the student center—which is our hub—I was compelled to put everything away in my bag, so that I could get off the bus when my shift was done without any hassles. I normally do this, but I also turned my coat to the rain jacket side (reversable coat), because I knew for sure we would be getting rain before I was done.
I was beginning my very last run. I had three people on board. I made my way out of the student center, which was busy because people were moving out of the dorms nearby. I turn out onto Lucinda when I started hearing radio transmissions—it was all fuzzy and I couldn't make heads or tails of it. I turn the radio up.
I was at the corner of Lucinda and Normal. I turn right onto Normal Rd. But that's when I heard a transmission come over. I hear the supervisor, Matt (Mobil 2), say to another driver to “evacuate your bus and go inside” wherever she was. In the background during the radio transmissions I could hear the tornado siren going off . I didn't hear any near me, but that made no difference. I had pulled my bus over to the side and put it in park.
When there was a pause in the radio traffic I called him. “Mobil 2, I just left the student center.”
“Where are you at?”
“I'm on Lucinda at the corner.”
"Evacuate your bus, and turn around and get the bus back to the student center. I got up and turned to the 3 people on my bus, and told them to evacuate the bus and head into the student center to the lower levels. They all got off and headed in.
I was right beside, but I couldn't park it in the road. So, I had to make a left turn and go around a block and come back into the turn around at the student center. Matt helped me park it, and told me to go inside. I gathered all my things, which was easy, thanks to my preperation. I'd already turned my coat to the rain side, and put it on before I returned to the student center.
I now can hear the sirens as I get off the bus. When I enter the student center, which is a 16 floor complex, a repeated message over the intercom kept announcing to go to the lower levels of the building and to stay away from glass and windows. So, I know my way around and go downstairs. I find some of the custodians—a couple of them I know—and I stand around with them and talk about what's going on. I learn that some place to the north there was flash flooding from the river.
Since I haven't seen where the other drivers went I knew I had better to go and find them. I finally locate them in a small room watching the radar on a large screen TV. I didn't even know this was here. They're all seated around the room. I've probably missed out on the various stories of what everyone else had been doing and where they were at the time of the announcement. I know that some people had to stop wherever they were on campus and evacuate and go into other buildings.
At this point, I'm not sure if there had been a tornado touch down. Only that a funnel cloud had been seen by someone somewhere. I could see the dark red sploch on the screen we were watching, and it was close to DeKalb. It was a good call to get us all off the buses, and I felt that this was handled very well by all of the supervisors.
Eventually, we're told that whoever wants to go back can follow Mobil 2 to the Freedom Mobile. Which we do. We're about to take off when he gets a call about another storm coming through. But we are offered a ride back to base, anyway in the boss' car.
Once back to base I wait for Dennis, not sure if he knows we've been under a tornado warning. I'm waiting in the garage of base where they work on the buses along with a few mechanics, and two other people who work in the office. I'd guaged the timing pretty good, because I see the black F150 coming down the street out front, and I said “Here comes my knight in shining armor!”
I tell Dennis what was happening. He tells me that he'd been listening to the Cubs on WGN and they didn't say anything about any tornado warnings. That surprised me.
Before he picked me up, he'd gone and got gas and went to our bank, and now we had to make a loan payment at another bank and get a pizza. Which we do. While he runs and gets the take and bake pizza, I snack on one of the cookies he brought in a napkin. "They had hot dogs today, at the bank for customer appreciation day," he told me.
At this point it's raining, but not hard. People at this end of town had heard about the warning, but pretty much people were out and about as if nothing was going on.
We begin our way back home. Now it begins to really rain. We get behind traffic, two buses going to some sporting event. Eventually they turn. We get past the toll way entrance, which really bogs down traffic, and head out into the country. Now the rain is coming down so fast the windshield wippers can't keep up. And my husband is eating his cookie saying how he remembered it raining this bad somewhere in Nebraska--only worse. I remember that trip.
We finally make it down our quiet road. There's a lot of standing rain in the fields. "There were farmers in the fields when I left," Dennis reports.
"Well, they're gone now."
The rain lets up the further south we get and finally home, it's raining lightly.
What a way to end the semester. I didn't have to drive my last run, spent it in the basement of the student center.