A Path of Destruction

Posted by on Jun 7, 2013 in Blog, Lessons

A Path of Destruction

A week ago today, the kids and I were going about a normal Friday evening, I had not followed the weather forecast, but I did happen to notice the sky had grown dark and a storm was moving in. The tornado sirens began to roar and a piercing alert came across my cell phone indicating a tornado warning was in effect. Thank God for all the warnings; there is no doubt these alerts saved the lives of many.

Immediately, we went to the basement, but then I realized I needed to pull the car in as they were calling for possible hail. I left Paige downstairs with Blake and rushed off to the garage. As soon as I pulled in the car, the storm engulfed the area. The trash dumpsters were thrown from the curb and went flying airborne into the backyard and the row of towering pine trees between my house and my neighbors literally was bent in half being pulled over by the wind. The rain came out of nowhere in buckets and seemed to be completely sideways.

I was able to get the garage door down and right as it shut the power went off. I struggled to close the regular door to the garage, the force of the wind pushing against me. I knew, this was clearly more than our usual storm. When I got back down to Paige she was really worked up. Blake and a friend, despite being told otherwise, had decided to sneak out the back door to watch the storm. I hollered for Blake with no answer, Paige was traumatized, sensing my panic leading to hysterics that Blake had slipped out. Flashbacks of the worst day of my life came back in to my mind and I felt sick to my stomach as once again I was screaming for my child.

We went and got a candle and I situated Paige as I tried to scream for Blake from the front door. I had no idea what I should do. It triggered a panic attack unlike any that I have had in a long time. Paige kept telling me she was going to throw up, she was terrified and I knew I couldn’t go out in the storm and look for Blake and leave Paige alone. I also knew I would never risk her safety by taking her out in it. I called a neighbor, literally in hysterics asking if Blake was there; he was not. My neighbor Debbie was worried about her own daughter, who was at a building that did not have a basement. Blessed to have their support, she sent her husband Jim out in the storm looking for Blake. I was sick, thinking he was going to find him laying unconscious in the yard.

Paige and I stayed tucked away in the safest corner and I continued to call Blake and his friend’s cell phone. One rang in the house and the other went straight to voicemail. It got more and more difficult to get a call out- clearly everyone was trying to make emergency calls and using their phones. After the storm subsided, Blake and his friend eventually walked in, unaware of my panic or the magnitude of what we had just encountered. They had actually ducked in another neighbor’s house for safety.

I don’t think I have ever come down on two people so hard in my life, but the fear that was inside me let lose. In times like this, I feel Blake, Paige and I need to be together. As long as we are together, then I feel safe regardless of the outcome.

The texts started coming through notifying us of the severity of the damage and we started realizing the subdivision had indeed been hit hard. People began to call to check on us as the new channels communicated a tornado had indeed moved along a path through my subdivision. You heard sirens and saw flashing lights everywhere. Eventually Sean came by to check on the kids. The cell phone towers struggled to support the volume and like many others he couldn’t get through.

Blake and his friend set out to go walk the subdivision and see the damage. Sean and Paige left together to do the same. I stayed home where I felt safe and replied to the many texts and calls letting friends and family know we were okay. They all came back and described the devastation and showed me photos, all of which seemed surreal. I continued to hear from more friends, some who had been in their car on the highway when the tornado struck. They attempted to outrun it but the force of the wind became too strong. They witnessed tractor trailers being blown over sideways on the highway and their car window shattered from the force of the wind. It was so severe, they held hands and prayed expecting the outcome to be the worst. Luckily, they survived it without injury.

Later, Paige and I snuggled in bed. There was nothing to do, no lights or electricity and all the computers and electric devices had long ago died. Paige said she was bored and might as well just sleep.

My mom informed me that the news had showed that the arena Blake was to graduate at the next day had been damaged, so we were not surprised to get word  in the wee hours of the morning that graduation had indeed been cancelled. Paige finally slept and I lay in bed watching my room light up again and again from the  flashing lights of emergency vehicles driving the subdivision.

The next day when I finally went out and about, I couldn’t believe the amount of destruction. I felt sick to my stomach to see houses I drive by everyday now missing the top half.  Trees and debris were every and the police guarded the subdivision to keep everyone except residents out. I went for a walk later and I felt like I was in another world. So many homes destroyed. Mattresses out in front yards, swing sets blown and thrown yards away and gaping holes the size of cars in the sides of houses. It was amazing, that there were no injuries or deaths. Thankfully, most took the warnings serious and sought protection in their basement. We were blessed to have very minimal damage, but still so saddened to have friends who’s entire home will need to be redone.

Blake graduated in a beautiful ceremony on Sunday that despite having to make all the last minute changes the school board managed to pull off perfectly.

The middle school Brooke attended was hit, and sustained a fair amount of damage. The memorial tree planted in Brooke’s honor, snapped in half along with many others on the school property. As silly as it seems, this weighted heavy on my heart.

The clean up efforts went nonstop all week and the repairs are in full swing. Many homes are not livable. As I walked throughout the week, I noticed more neighbors than ever talking to one another, and many asking me how I was. I witnessed once again, hardship softening people’s hearts and bringing people together.

This is another experience in my life that enforces  how fragile life really is. In an instant life often changes. I strive to drive this point home to others again and again. Appreciate today, there are no guarantees for tomorrow. Although we were blessed to only sustain material damage, the shock has affected many. Take safety warnings serious, they really do save lives!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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