Sunday, June 8 started out as a great sunny day. My family and I were at a graduation party just 1.5 miles from our home. We were delayed in leaving by just a few minutes because I talk too much! But that delay could have saved our lives.
When we were leaving the party, I could see what looked like a wall cloud. It wasn't your average dark stormy sky. The radio had announced a severe thunderstorm warning.... that's it! My son asked if there would be a tornado and I told him not to worry... most thunderstorms don't make tornadoes. But I was thinking.... I think we have plenty of time to get home and get everyone in the basement and run back outside with my camera. (I'm a volunteer weather spotter.)
But I was wrong. Within seconds of getting on the main road, The wind, rain, and debris started flying horizontally and increasing with speed. These were not gusts but a consistent wind.
I instinctively knew what was happening. I voiced out loud that we were in a tornado... a funnel cloud had to be forming above us. My son said, "I can't see a tornado." I know! We were in danger. There was a ditch at the side of the road. Too late. We would never get there. I noticed that the truck in front of me put the pedal to the medal and within about 2 seconds, I couldn't see him. I thought he probably was going in the wrong direction. But turning around wasn't an option either because I would have to slow down to turn around which meant losing momentum. Uh no! Not a good idea. I kept up my same speed in the same direction. My hubby was ghost white and still. It was a good thing I was driving... and I have no idea why I was. He usually drives. In about 10 seconds, it was over. A slight rain. Still. Quiet. Eery.
I came up to the intersection where I needed to turn to get to my neighborhood. No power. I turned and went around the bend..... OMG! It really had been a tornado! I tried 2 ways to get into the subdivision.... blocked roads. I just couldn't believe it. And I hoped the woman who crashed was OK. People were already out helping her. (It turned out that she made herself crash into the ditch to avoid the falling tree.) I tried my last try by going all the way around. (There was a lake in the way.) I finally made it home. The photo at the right was taken 3 hours after the storm. It was one of the blocked roads I came upon. Neighbors were so awesome in helping each other out. Chain saws were humming. (They still are 5 days later by the way.)
Our home was fine. We were very fortunate. Only a couple trees were down on my street. One street back (the last street in the sub) looked like nothing had ever happened but a light rain. Amazing! Go around the corner and it was a disaster as you can see from the photos. You can right click on any photo to get a bigger view.
Many people came looking at our sub, especially after we made the news. TV helicopters and ground crews spent 3 days in our sub and the sub across the main street.
The National Weather Service reported that it wasn't a tornado. It said it was straight line winds, otherwise known as a microburst or a Deracho windstorm. Why? It wasn't indicated on radar. Sometimes I think we rely on technology too much without giving consideration to reasoning. Several people in the immediate area spotted the funnel cloud. It may not have been a touchdown tornado, but the reports say the funnel hovered just above rooftops. If you walk around and look at the damage, you would have to see it was a rotating wind. There were Airforce pilots flying around inspectors to assess the damage. I have to wonder if they ever looked at it from our perspective. A Microburst has the same intensity as an F1 tornado. So why do I care?
Because it wasn't reported as a tornado (or several tornadoes around the area), national coverage wasn't done. I know there are people suffering elsewhere who have it much worse, but there is little hope of the area being declared a disaster area. House insurance companies do not have to help home owners with cleanup costs unless the house itself was damaged. I really feel badly for our many neighbors with tight budgets, especially the many elderly couples.
The neighbors at the left also had a transformer lying in her backyard. The tree just missed the house. It damaged the deck. I'm not sure if the insurance covers that. I hope so. They are such nice people.
The people at the right lost a playscape and other equipment. I'm not sure if that is covered either.
The next few photos were taken 3 days after the storm. It seems strange that some areas actually look even worse after the clean up has been continuing. The house at the left really took a beating... front and back.
The signs advertising services for repairs and tree removal were multiplying. Reports on the TV (thanks to generators I know this) were saying that scam artists were already on the loose and taking advantage of vulnerable people.
The photo at the left is taken with my 6 year old niece. Wow... these trees were huge! I'm not sure if you can spot it, but in the right center of the photo is a mailbox which was cemented into the ground. What a powerful wind!
This house lost a window. What a mess in their yard. The nieghborhood just will never look the same.
This mailbox sure took a beating.
Oh look! There is hope... new telephone poles!!!!! OK, where are the crews????
I couldn't help myself. This struck me as humerous. There are several homes for sale in the neighborhood. House values are plummeting so the sign was accurate... but very ironic to see it now.
4 days later..... a work crew! At the end of Thursday,
we were pleasantly surprised to have our power back! Several people in the area are still in the dark. More storms came through Friday morning and added 25,000 added to the 40,000 still without power since Sunday. Oh dear!
The lines in the area are still very fragile. As I type this on Friday night, the power has been flickering. I'm very nervous! Isn't it amazing how much we take for granted?
Just like I worry about our neighbors, I worry about the people in the midwest suffering from floods and tornadoes. I grieve for the parents of the boy scouts who lost their lives. God, please be with us in our time of need.