Natural Disasters

   The other morning at 5:15 we awakened to the terrifying noise of the city warning siren sounding1.  Since there was a big electrical storm going on outside, we knew that this meant that a tornado2 might be approaching Pella and that we should head to our basement3 for protection from swirling4 winds, should they actually hit Pella.  By the time we were heading downstairs, Kim had our TV on and was checking the path of the tornado5.  She called to us that it was between Pella and Knoxville, a town about 12 miles southwest from us and heading toward Attica, a town of several hundred people.  Attica is located about ten miles south of Pella. We turned on our local radio station and learned that the tornado had struck6 Attica and was heading on east.  We knew we were safe this time, but we felt7 for the people in Attica. Soon the all clear8 signal was sounded, so we came back upstairs and listened for further news of the weather.  Later in the day we learned that Attica had received considerable9 property damage, but there were no deaths.  They were fortunate10 in that respect11. While some people look at natural disasters as punishment12 for human misbehavior13, most of us accept them as merely physical changes of our earth. 


  We are well aware of the damage tornados can do; recently several of them struck small towns north of us, killing eight people and essentially completely destroying the towns.  Repeatedly there have been pictures of the destruction14 from there, and now from Attica. 


  Of course, the damage and loss of life here in Iowa is very small in comparison with the loss of life and damage caused by the massive15 earthquake in Sichuan Province of China and by the hurricane16 in Myanmar17.  We seldom have earthquakes in Iowa, and if we do, we barely feel them.  Of course, we never have hurricanes.  But we certainly do have tornados and bad winter storms!


  We now are at the beginning of the hurricane season18 in the U.S.  People who live close to the ocean are keeping their fingers crossed19 that this wont be a bad hurricane season.  These storms are terribly destructive too.  So far we have had a record number of tornados in the Midwest this spring and summer.  The storms that moved into Iowa from Nebraska today caused Interstate 8020 to be closed down last night because the powerful winds blew the big trucks over on the highway. 


We can add to this list volcano eruptions21, hailstorms22, and severe winter blizzards23, as well as floods.  Iowa has been flooding recently too.  However, one positive thing in all of this is that people cooperate to help one another to recover from these disasters.  Also, for many of these disasters we are able to avoid them by wise planning and sound construction and we can predict their occurrence24 and minimize25 the losses due to property damage and the danger to human life.

1. terrifying noise of the city warning siren sounding: 城市警铃响起来的可怕声音。 句中 the city warning siren sounding 等于the city warning siren’s sounding。
2. tornado: an extremely violent storm consisting of air that spins very quickly and causes a lot of damage (龙卷风). To qualify as a tornado the wind speed must be at least 75 miles per hour, and the most severe reach 200+ miles per hour.
3. basement: the lower level of a house built down into the ground, and commonly used for storage and house utilities (地下室,通常用做储藏室以及存放家庭器具).
4. swirling: moving in circle (旋转). In tornados it forms a funnel-shaped cloud in most cases.
5. checking the path of the tornado: observing information about the way of the strong storm (查询龙卷风经过的路径). Regional TV stations show images of the path of tornados and predict the potential damage.
6. struck: hit, or make contact by hitting something (袭击).
7. felt for the people in Attica: (informal) were sad for people who suffered from the tornado (为Attica人感到难过).
8. all clear signal: the several short blasts by the city siren, indicating that the tornado has passed and it is safe to leave protective cover (龙卷风解除信号,城市警笛短短地响几下,告知人们龙卷风已经过去了,可以离开躲避的地方).
9. considerable: fairly large (相当大程度的).
10. fortunate: lucky, or having good luck (幸运的).
11. in that respect: in that situation or particular event (在这方面).
12. punishment: a penalty, severe treatment (惩罚).
13. misbehavior: bad behavior that is not acceptable to other people (不良行为).
14. destruction: severe damage to persons or property (破坏).
15. massive: very large (大规模的).
16. hurricane: 飓风
17. Myanmar: 缅甸
18. hurricane season: the time of the year when hurricanes are likely to occur (飓风季节).  In North America this is usually from June through November as the oceans are cooling.  In the South Pacific and parts of Asia the season is somewhat longer.
19. keeping their fingers crossed: (Idiom) hoping for good luck instead of bad luck (把手指交叉,希望未来好运).  Many people do cross their fingers even though they do not think it really will help the situation.  This superstition goes back hundreds of years.
20. Interstate 80: 80号州际高速公路
21. volcano eruptions: the activity of heated rocks, ashes and gases exploding from a given point in the crust of the Earth (火山爆发). Volcanoes usually occur where there are mountains formed by thrusting interactions of continental shelves of the Earth.
22. hail storms: storms in which frozen pieces of ice are formed in the air and which fall to the earth, usually along with rain (冰雹).  Hail stones vary in size from small to quite large; some reaching several inches in diameter.
23. blizzards: winter storms in which snow and extremely strong, very cold winds may result in physical and personal damage (暴风雪).  Often visibility is limited due to the blowing snow, and snow drifts may interfere with normal movement of traffic or animals.
24. occurrence: an event or incident which happens (发生).
25. minimize: reduce something that is difficult, dangerous, or unpleasant to the smallest possible amount or degree (使最小化).

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