The final words from my previous post on learning new things in May were “And just think… there are still 3.5 days left in the month to learn and do even more interesting things.” Little did I know then how much there was to learn in the past three days. (Note to self: NEVER post about future possibilities again, except when writing fiction.)
Back up in time to last Saturday afternoon: I walked around our yard, picking up three handfuls of small twigs. Twenty-four hours later, I wondered how to pick up the several trees in our yard and through our house.
Sunday, May 29, 2010, at 4:29 p.m., a tornado touched down in our neighborhood.
First of all, my husband and I are safe. Although I know of several close calls, miraculously, no bodily injuries occurred as a result of it. I can’t say the same for our house.
Secondly, ever since the tornado struck, we have been without electricity and water. It may take weeks to restore. There is obviously much, seemingly unending, physical labor to do. I am torn between clean-up efforts and recording/communicating. However, I shall post when I can.
Sunday afternoon, my husband heard the tornado siren. Like we normally do whenever we hear it (from years of living in tornado alley Iowa), we headed for the basement. He had on the weather radio, but it only warned of rain and strong winds. A couple of minutes (2!) after we were downstairs, we heard loud, scary sounds of which I’ve never heard before. People say, “A tornado sounds just like a freight train.” Freight trains go through Battle Creek all the time. They sound more like clickety-click than the rushing, whooshing, mob-of-ghostly sounds we heard. I’d always thought the brick chimney which goes from roof through ground floor to basement would be the safest, sturdiest place to hunker down next to in case of a tornado. But the overhead wind and crashing noises kept me several steps away from that tunnel to the tornado.
Things went black. Then came the bams. Loud. House-shaking. Bam. Bam. After I realized the basement ceiling was still in tact and we were uninjured, my husband and I just stared at each other in the measly little generator night-light.
Two trees came through our house – an 80’ oak tree which uprooted and smashed away the corner of our bedroom, and another oak, much taller and thicker, the top half which twisted off and then sailed into our garage roof.
Witnesses say three tornadoes were spotted at the same time, in the same area of Battle Creek – our area!
Once the noise was over, the wind and rain stopped just as if some giant had sneezed. The storm was loud. It was quick. It was gone nearly as quickly as it came.
My husband and I ventured upstairs. Power lines were down. Everywhere we looked, trees lay across our roads and over houses and on cars. Small rivers ran through the grassy ditch dents next to the narrow roads, too wide to leap over without getting wet — the least of our problems. Neighbors trickled from their houses. We all clustered together, as if fragile humans have the ability to protect each other at times like this. I’m sure it was more about security.
Although our cars were apparently safe in the garage, we couldn’t get out of our driveway for the trees laying in it. Even if we could, we couldn’t get more than three houses away. Trees blocked every possible exit.
Interesting thing from this: neighbors become the old-fashioned neighbors you read about elsewhere. Before this, we mostly acknowledged each other with nods or waves and occasional brief conversations. Now there were individual survival stories to tell. All of us needed to communicate. The stories. Lots and lots of stories.
I will post more when and as I can. This initial post was simply to let you know we are safe. Much more coming. Promise. Like I said, we people have a need to tell our stories.
(P.S. When I can get to an SD card reader (not exactly a top priority at this point), I’ll post photos on my FaceBook page.