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The Dallas Tornado

Voices from the Future | Colin Hatzman

tornado damage

The Dallas Tornado

The Event: In late October 2019, a series of tornados — 10 all together — hit the city of Dallas, Texas. The strongest one battered suburban north Dallas with 140 mph winds, and tore a path across the Earth about 15 miles long. The tornados destroyed more than 700 structures in the Dallas area.

The alarm system went off at 9:05 p.m. on a Sunday night. “I was on my computer playing video games,” says Colin Hatzman, a local entrepreneur. “It peeped, and the panel read: Take shelter immediately. We did. My wife Isabelle and our two dogs hid immediately in our bedroom closet.”

As the tornado approached Hatzman’s house, there was an odd, hard-to-describe sound — like a rumble — outside. After that, everything went silent.

“Our ears popped like in an airplane, but the effect was 10 times stronger,” Hatzman says. “Everything around us went dead silent. After five seconds or so, my wife and I looked at each other. Is it gone? I decided to step out of the closet and saw that my home was in shambles. But, you know, I was happy to be alive.”

Hatzman, a 31 year old who grew up in the Dallas area, has always been fascinated by tornados. After all, they come with the territory. Literally.

“This was not my first go-around with the tornadoes,” he says. “This is a very tornado-prone area and I’ve studied them a lot. To be honest, they are quite amazing things. I’ve learned that the air pressure inside the vortex of the tornado drops and changes, and that’s why our ears popped too. But, you always think it won’t happen to you, but to the other people. Would I take another tornado and still stay in the area? My answer is a definite ‘no.’”

Hatzman’s house was one of 286 in the Dallas area that suffered major damage from the tornado. His closest neighbors lost their houses, too. Still, he reminds himself daily how lucky he was. Had he not sought shelter in that downstairs closet, Hatzman and his wife could have been directly hit by the tornado and died.

“There was no way we would have survived in the lower part of the house where the tornado ripped through,” he says. “This has made me change my thinking. I mean, I think about the future differently. I never thought about dying — never. The first thing I want to do is to put a will together and have my estate valued, in case I pass away. I own a valuable business, and I don’t want it up in the air when one dies.”

Moreover, Hatzman believes there is a serious issue with weather patterns that will cause more tornados in his hometown in the future.

“I’ve researched the tornadoes over time,” he says. “The tornados have become more frequent in the greater Dallas area. I believe this is caused by global warming, which is causing more extreme weather patterns. But shame on me that I haven’t made any changes in my life. I’m not so educated that I’d know what to do. I guess I could cut meat? We do recycle, but that’s not enough, right? I need to do more.”

— Kirsi M. Hayrinen-Beschloss