I used to laugh at the word, "tornadic" wondering if it was some term made up by overly dramatic weathermen. It turned a little less funny, however, on May 27, 2011. The day started out normally. I woke up to a rainy morning and went to work with plans of what I would get done that day and an afternoon run. Around mid-morning, however, the tornado sirens began to go off, and then around 1:00 pm they sent us home. I stopped by Julie's on my way and hung out with them for an hour and then headed home to make use of the free afternoon by getting some housework done.
Around 4:00pm it hit again, and much harder this time. I tried not to turn on the weather, but as it got crazier outside, I decided to tune in. Jason got home shortly after and together we watched the craziest weather cell we had seen to date pass by twice. When power went out, we did what all foolish weather watchers do and stood out on the front porch watching it. For the first time ever, I saw Jason made nervous by the weather conditions, and that made me even more so as I stood behind him on the porch, my chin resting on his shoulder, watching the sky turn dark and menacing colors, and the trees and rain blow in all directions.
It passed us by. Power went out to stay and I lit candles. I started reading "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand with my book light and read until time for bed. The darkness and the silence were eerie, so I ended up lighting another candle around 1:00 am just so things were not so black.
The next morning Jason made me coffee and pancakes with his camping stove, and I hung out all of our wet clothes to dry in the cool morning air. When he read on his blackberry that power could be out for several days and there was a curfew, I said we needed to go visit family. We called his mom and asked if we could come. She was delighted to have us, so we packed a few items, the pup, and headed north.
About 6 miles out on our way to the interstate, we were shocked to see just how close the actual tornado had come. Trees were broken in half as if a giant with sheers had cut them all back. It looked like that same giant had sat upon all the houses, and a trailer was ripped in two. The belongings of these houses could be seen lining the fences nearby, and the sight was made even worse by the arrival of those who had lived there. They stood milling about as if unsure what to do. My heart began a slow descent into my stomach as I realized just how close it had all come, followed by what these people had to face in front of them.
As we drove out of town, we listened to the radio stations give people help on finding gas, ice, medical assistance and generators. When we got to Jason's parents, we watched the news and learned of the devastation in Tuscaloosa and other areas in North Alabama. My heart broke for all of those who lost friends and family, and for those who lost possessions as well. I know and they probably know that all of this is just stuff and most of it is replaceable...but that does not diminish the hard road ahead.
I felt guilty for running off to a safe place with electricity, plenty of food and water. I told myself that I would not be using up resources that others would need and that it was good to leave, but I still wondered if I should have stayed to assist those people I saw 5 miles from my home.
We stayed in Glasgow, KY until Tuesday morning, when we arose early and headed home. We did have a wonderful time there. It was good to see family and to run through those amazing Kentucky hills. Running through the countryside I talked to God about what had happened and tried to find understanding and peace in my heart about it all. Why them and not us? What happens one day if it is us? What if I have children to protect? Will I be strong and brave enough to do it? What if I lose them? What if they lose me? Fear and doubt creep in with disasters of this sort and I needed to work all of that out, to strengthen my own faith, and to pray for all of those going through what I was fearing. So that is what I did running through the Kentucky hillside. And those runs were some of the fastest to date on those mountainous country roads.
We returned to a home just as we'd left it and with the added bonus of power. I never knew I'd be so excited to see the lights come on. It is now Wednesday and I will not be returning to work until Monday. I find this extremely fun, as I get to live out my dreams of housewifedom. However, I'm also planning out my strategy of how and who to help. There are plenty of opportunities here and with all of this free time on my hands and the resources I have in abundance, I plan to make use of it all. I am honored to do so.
I do have a few stories that I may share here from my sister and some dear running friends. The storms were not so kind to everyone I know, but they are okay and the damage is repairable. I am thankful beyond measure for this, while hurting for those struggling much more than I did and have. I will be adding my prayers and efforts to those of so many others as we try to recover from these storms.