Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Auntie Em! Auntie Em!

This past week has been a whirlwind time, literally.

Last Thursday night I found myself driving to meet some friends about a half hour North of my home.  I hadn't heard any news of a storm brewing, but I knew that my enjoyment of the 60 degree weather was to be short-lived, as tomorrow there would be a heat index of 109, yikes!  For the moment I was cruising in my car, listening to the radio while enjoying the breeze with my windows down.

About halfway there, I saw the most amazing cloud-line rolling in on me.  I just thought it looked pretty cool, to be honest.  So, I pulled my car over and snapped a picture on my less than awesome phone, before continuing on my merry little way.

About a mile and a half down the road, the storm was upon me.  I could tell that the lightning was over the lake - and it was the most powerful lightning I'd ever seen!  But the storm, that was a different story, I felt like I was in the eye of it.  I wasn't scared though, which thinking back was kind of weird.  I guess in the back of my mind I've been trained that everything will be okay, unless there are tornado sirens blaring - that's when you really have to worry, right?

Meanwhile, my car is crunching hideously over hundreds of tree branches, twigs and leaves that in a moment appeared on the roadway.  Still I drove onward, unaware of the actual power of the storm I was in.  Three mature trees, THREE, fell around me or in front of me on my way.  Even STILL I drove on. 

The storm had knocked out power in the building where my friends were waiting for me.  We met in the dark, using our cell phones when we needed light.  By the time we'd finished, about an hour later, we walked outside, said our goodbyes and headed homeward.

I'd missed two calls from my childhood best friend who lives out in the County, approximately 45 min from my house by car.  A frantic Amie answered her phone and asked me if my Dad was okay.  Apparently a tornado went through the neighborhood where our Dad's still live.  Her Dad had lost half of the shingling from his roof, and he told her of the funnel cloud that barreled over his head as the storm passed through.  Worried beyond belief by this time, I hung up with my friend and called my Dad.

Thankfully he has a cell phone, as the power was knocked out.  He was fine, the house was fine, and all the animals were fine.  He'd walked outside when the "phenomenon" occurred and it had physically pulled him off the porch and down his front steps.  He recalled it feeling as though he was being sand blasted, but thankfully he was unharmed.  The neighborhood was pitch black, apart from the rescue vehicles that peppered the city.

I sped back to town.  I called one of my friends, Lindsay, who I had just left and asked her to pray with me, for my house and my beloved cat, Beans.  In my front yard stand two gigantic pine trees and I dreaded coming home to find my house crushed and my cat missing.  Beans is an indoor cat and the thought of him getting out panicked me, like a human falling through ice and not being able to find the entry point.  I had no idea the devastation I might witness.  As Linds prayed for me, immediately a peace settled over my heart and I sped onward.

My cute little gingerbread house was unharmed.  Unfortunately I could not see a thing; the light from my dying cell phone was just enough for my to locate my groggy cat, throw him in the kennel, and head over to my Dad's house.  I spent the night there.  No power.  Little sleep.  A lot of walking around and surveying the damage. 

Trees down.

Power lines down.

We came across the scene of an accident where a tree crashed onto a motorcycle rider, killing him instantly.  I found out the following day that he was a friend of mine from school.  He was trying to get home to his wife and children when the unexpected (still undefined) storm took place.  He was two blocks from his wife and three daughters when he died. 

The following day, Friday, I went on a walk through the park that rests between my Dad's house and my best friend's childhood home.  The force of the storm was evident:

Tree after tree, uprooted.  Trees on houses.  Felled trees on power lines...

Root systems yanked out as though they were small weeds; leaving behind holes that were upwards of 6 feet deep and around!

Trees that lined the ball field by my childhood home were now laying over fences, streets, and homes.

Because there was no warning, no one was prepared.  My cousin was actually in the park playing softball and he watched instantaneously as the sand kicked up and all at once the trees fell around him.

The destruction came from the same storm that I thought was going to flip over my car as it blasted me with debris moments before doing this!

You never realize how much you depend on electricity until it is gone.  My fridge was filled with food from my Dad and Sister's un-powered refrigerator.  My Dad, who has sleep apnea was up for a full day before going to my house with his machine.  Thursday night the power went out.  By Friday morning mine had returned.  My Sister, my Dad, and two of my sister's cats moved in with me until they regained power.  My Dad had my bed, and Laura and I shared the futon.  Thank God I had air conditioning: did you forget how I mentioned earlier that the heat was to get up in the hundreds?  How miserable!

My Dad's power wasn't restored till 6pm on Saturday; almost 48 hrs later.

They still are calling this "event" a "windstorm".  I don't buy it.  It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen or experienced.  I'm thankful for the friends and family that remained safe in the middle of a completely unanticipated event.  Most people I have spoken with were actually outside at the time, caught in the eye of what is being referred to as the worst storm over Lake Michigan that's ever been recorded.

A storm with no rain.  Isn't that crazy?