Almost anywhere one chooses to live in the US (and the world), natural disasters become a part of life. Growing up in Los Angeles, earthquakes became a part of life, causing death and destruction only often enough to frighten those who live elsewhere. In the coastal South, they live with hurricane season, and in New England they have deadly nor’easters. In the Midwest, we have tornadoes, and they can hit with almost no warning at all — as they did last night nearby us:

As a storm roared over his head, shaking his house and sending the family belongings flying all over the place, all Jason Akins could do was put his arms over his wife, two sons and two neighbor kids and hope for the best.

“I was worried something was going to fall on us,” said Akins, a Hugo resident who went in a matter of seconds from enjoying a carefree Sunday barbecue to holding on for dear life in his basement.

Akins’ house was severely damaged when thunderstorms packing large hail and a possible tornado swept through this small St. Paul suburb, killing at least one person and destroying dozens of other homes during a devastating rampage through the north metro area.

A 2-year-old child was killed and the child’s sibling was critically injured, Washington County Sheriff Bill Hutton said. The children’s parents also were hospitalized. At least five other people were injured and taken to hospitals.

A series of tornadoes in Iowa killed nine people yesterday as well. We live within 20 minutes of St. Paul, in a different direction, and we had been expecting some strong storms all day. They never came close to us, and the severe-weather sirens never activated. Our storm alarm never sounded. The first time I heard about the tornadoes was when a very good blog-friend e-mailed me to make sure we didn’t get hurt.

Keep the people of Hugo and the stricken areas of Iowa in your prayers today.

Tags: Iowa