The Mind of Bluesleepy

Concord Mills goes BOOM!! 21 August 2000

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluesleepy @ 8:44 am

Bleccchhh. It’s 8:45am, and I’m up. On my vacation. I’m here in North Carolina visiting my sister Michele, and she waits for no man. Or woman. Or Bluesleepy. This crazy lady got up at 4:30am with her man (he has to go to work really early), and has been up since then. She even went to Super Walmart this morning. Can you imagine?! I can’t. Just couldn’t do it. I’d be like, “You’re a grown man — you haul your butt outta bed and get to work; I’m going back to sleep!!!” :o)

We had quite the exciting trip to the mall yesterday.

We were minding our own business in the mall, heading towards a sports store that Ben wanted to visit, since he’d been going into all these places that Michele and I wanted to look at (we got two shirts for $2.50 each…. YAH BABY!!!). All of a sudden, all these people started racing past us. Michele just figured that these people were late getting on their tourbus (we were at Concord Mills, which is part of the Mills family of huge outlet malls), but then Kurt made the astute observation that the people just kept coming — too many for a tourbus. That’s when the news hit us.

“A GAS MAIN EXPLODED!!! GET OUT OF THE MALL!!!”

First thing that ran through my mind was the scene in Independence Day where Vivica Fox and her son and puppy are in the tunnel, trying to get out of the city, and the fireball rips through the tunnel. I screamed at Michele what I’d just heard and grabbed her.

Kurt then grabbed me and told me to calm down. My hysteria went away — it’s really comforting to have him next to me. Plus, Michele and Ben used to be in the Navy, and Kurt is in the Navy, so that they’re used to dealing with disasters like that. They were all calm, and we moved to the exits fairly calmly. People were running past us, screaming and crying, which was rather dissettling, but I listened to Ben and Kurt and was ok. Ben at first thought that there was really someone with a gun back in the mall, since there weren’t any alarms going off and the sprinklers were still dry.

We got outside, and I just wanted to leave, but Ben vetoed that idea and we turned around the corner and saw it. About three-quarters of a mile away, flames were shooting up into the sky at least 200 feet tall, by Ben’s estimation. A gas main HAD ruptured, but at least it was in a construction area.

We heard later that a bulldozer had hit the main, but thankfully no one was hurt. Apparently, an off-duty paramedic had been somewhere near the accident and rescued the few construction workers before they were hurt seriously. Michele and I had been thinking that the bulldozer driver had been killed instantaneously, and we were thinking of his family and friends. But no one was hurt seriously.

We didn’t leave the mall until almost 6pm, and we’d run out of the building 3:45pm. We couldn’t really go anywhere because so many people were leaving that the traffic just wasn’t moving.

It was really disturbing… It’s the first time that I’ve witnessed a disaster like that, to have feared for my life for even a second. I have led the most fortunate of lives, never having to worry about anything, never having to want for anything.

And I now know that I need to stay calm. I just freaked — I didn’t know what to do. But surrounded by my sister, my brother-in-law, and my boyfriend, I was able to settle down and do what needed to be done. There were all these women and children around us, sobbing and screaming and racing around, scared out of their minds. I understood and sympathized with them, but at least we weren’t facing any immediate danger. Thank God for that.

For another view on this story, and a link to the newspaper that had the news on it, please visit Michele’s site.

God bless you all.

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