As I sit here editing this post, tornadoes are hitting areas of our country again. Praying for those already hit and for their loss. Praying for safety of those in the path of these storms.
Of the over 700 tornadoes this year in the US, at least one of them traveled right through my little town and specifically right down our street. Honestly, I never thought of a tornado hitting this area. I'm from the Midwest and tornadoes are par for the course there. But in North Carolina? Sure enough, y'all.
Pardon the picture quality - they are from my iPhone.
Our house suffered minimal damage. Too many lost shingles to count will most likely leave us with a new roof. We lost shutters, a patio set and our kid's swingset will need repair. The trees, though - so many. Our neighbor lost over 50 alone. The craziest thing is that many of them, the very biggest ones, were turned over from the roots. Usually, in high wind situations, we lose pine trees and pear trees because they snap so easily. But this crazy storm just lifted trees right out of the ground. And then left the birdbath beside it untouched. So, weird don't you think?
We are counting ourselves very lucky as so many others around us have suffered so much more loss. Our insurance will fix what we cannot. We are wounded but not devastated.
The day of the tornado, I was running errands with two of my three kids. My husband was out of town with Bubby. My mom called me two or three times to tell me that a storm was coming. She wanted me home. As I finished up shopping in the local home improvement store, it lost power and went black. I decided it was time to get home. That is about a 10 minute drive down a long and winding road filled with tall majestic trees on both sides. The rain was pouring and traffic lights were down. The sky was a dark gray. It seemed like a normal storm at first. Then the lightning started - it was downright scary. I was sure that if anything got us it would be that. There was a point when I passed a local YMCA that I considered stopping. I thought we'd be fine. It was only a few minutes later that my mom called again to tell me not to come home, that she had taken cover in the bath tub of her own home and more scared than she has ever been in her life. The tornado was on top of exactly where I was headed. Then the phone went dead, the wind picked up, debris was flying into my car and the sky when black. I felt like I was descending into an abyss - the intense lightning a true reminder of the danger in which I was headed.
So, I pulled over and told my 10 year old daughter that I was going to open the door to the van, she was to jump out in the ditch and that after I grabbed the baby I would be on top of her in that ditch. She calmly said, "Yes Mommy."
But then, I looked at the ditch and the rain and the mud and the big tall trees and thought to myself that there was no better chance for survival there than in my car. So, I turned around and did exactly what they tell you not to do in a tornado - ran from it! It felt right, though and so I drove back to that YMCA. As fast as my van would go in the rain we went the opposite direction of the storm. I pulled into the circle drive, slammed my car into park, grabbed Baby Tand B and we ran inside.
The manager was awesome - calm and collected he led me to the women's locker room where a group of women and children were taking cover. It was only then that my daughter and I both broke down. The adrenaline that kept me going was now a puddle of tears. The women calmed us and we were safe.
When I left the Y, I turned down the road to go home and found it blocked by HUGE trees that had fallen. Actually about 100 yards from where I had just a decided to turn my car around. I felt grateful.
Getting home was challenging as most of the roads were blocked with trees at this point. Fallen power lines were everywhere. I got a call from my neighbor telling me the damage to our home.
When I got there, it was not even minutes later that friends from church arrived to assess the damage and start their chainsaws. It was comforting, encouraging and gave me all kinds of hope. That is church, people.
We are recovering and will be fine. I'm thankful to be alive. I'm grateful for my family, friends and my church right now. My awesome church took an offering the day after the storm especially for victims. And just this week we adopted 10 families from one of the worst hit areas - a local mobile home park where they lost everything. I am proud to be a member of a church that walks the talk.
Well, there's not much more to say and there's still much actual work to do. I'll finish with what I said on my Facebook page a couple days ago and it rings so true.
May you be a part of a community like that. You will either be blessed or be a blessing and either way, that's a win.