Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fears and Repairs

So mostly everyone knows that our town was hit by a tornado in the middle of May. Our house was damaged but looked great compared to two blocks away. Honestly, I try not to think too much about that day but I know it will be cathartic to write about it.

It was a strange day for me to be at home but my parents were out of town and I took some vacation time to watch Will. We were having a pretty fun day and had run errands that morning but were just at home hanging out when a storm started moving in. I think the fact that I have lived in tornado alley for a good portion of my life has desensitized me to storms. The meteorologists had warned the city that tornadoes were a big possibility that day but I just brushed it off. By the time that our tornado sirens were going off, it was too late for me to get Will and I in the car and find shelter (plus our town doesn't have many shelters available). Still, the sirens go off a lot and nothing seems to happen so I still wasn't freaking out too much.

The news started showing coverage of a tornado on the ground and it was heading our direction but it changed paths a few times so I wasn't too sure if it was still coming our way. I started googling the addresses it was listed at and it was 6 miles, then 4 miles, then 2 miles from us. This was when I looked outside and saw light debris floating into our yard. I grabbed Will and headed into our laundry room which is our only interior space. The weatherman were saying that if you were above ground, you would not survive over and over again to the point that I finally screamed at the TV for them to stop saying that. I didn't know of anywhere underground to go.

We had a backpack packed in case anything ever happened so I brought that and my dog and my parents' dog into the tiny room with pillows and shut the door. I laid Will on the ground and covered him just as our lights went out. Penny, our dog, laid on top of me and I just started crying and telling Will that I was so sorry. He was surprisingly unafraid and mostly just wanted to get up off the floor. Just a few minutes after we lost power, the tornado passed through our neighborhood. It was very loud (I likened it to a vacuum noise) and I could hear large debris hit our house. It felt like an eternity but looking back it must have been less than half a minute or so.

And suddenly, it was over. I stayed in the room for a few more minutes and then ventured out quickly to check on things and make sure Will and the dogs were okay (I couldn't see anything in the dark room and was panicky and couldn't find my flashlight). Surprisingly, almost everything inside of our house was fine - just a broken window where a piece of wood flew through - I think it was part of a desk.

After I determined that the storm had passed, I tried to go outside. Something had hit our storm door and it was jammed so I went out back. There was debris everywhere. Wood was impaled in our lawn, metal and glass shards were all over our yard. My neighbor wandered out at the same time and you could tell that we were both in shock. I went around the house to the front and saw a few more neighbors. Everyone was okay on my immediate street.

As all of this was happening, I was trying to get messages to James and my parents but nothing would go out. I was receiving multiple voicemails and text messages from friends and family but I couldn't get anything to go through. I found out later that one of my cousins had called the police and said her husband lived at my address so she could find out if I was okay. The police told her that our neighborhood had been demolished but they didn't have any further information. A few hours later, one text message finally went through to James. All it said was "House hit. We are okay."

I was standing outside talking with a neighbor (plus being outside kept Will happy) when my aunt walked up. Her and my cousin had driven in and parked outside my neighborhood to come and find me. She burst into tears because she had just walked past ground zero of all the damage and feared the worst as she headed toward our house. She was on the phone with my dad who was also crying because they had been watching the coverage of the storm. She helped me pack a bag and get Will (who was being a champ through the whole thing) ready to leave.

We grabbed the suitcase, leashed the dogs, and headed back to her car. They had closed the road she was parked on so we ended up spending hours walking and riding in a few random cars (seriously, people were so nice!) to get back to it. We finally made it back to her house about 6 hours after the tornado hit. James met us there and I've never seen him look more relieved. We spent one night at my aunt's house and then drove up to my parents' house where we stayed for the next 5 weeks.

To be honest, our house looked great compared to just north of us. So far, we have had our garage door replaced, the window was replaced, our fence replaced, our new shed is almost up, and we are waiting on our new roof and siding. We cleaned up the debris (although we are still finding small things in the yard) and will power wash the house once the repairs are complete. My parents also ordered a storm shelter for our house for everyone's peace of mind. The house will be as good as new. I'm still struggling with a lot of fear, especially during storms, and am having trouble sleeping. We are so blessed to have a strong group of friends and family who have helped us tremendously and are continuing to pray for peace over our home.

So that was just rambling, but I guess I needed to get it out :)