good thing nobody was currently living in this rental property
What an interesting time this has been. I will not document all my feelings here, for this post would be lengthy and I have not the time at the moment. But I want to say that I am very glad to have had this unique experience. What an awe-inspiring act of nature, reminding us who is in charge and what's really important.
June Bug and I had gone to the mall that morning to look for a rain jacket (of all things!) which we didn't end up buying because we didn't have enough money for the only one we found. It was storming, but just seemed like a typical Southern Illinoisan storm, with a ton of rain and thunder and lightening. So we stayed at the mall longer than planned, hanging out at the arcade, playing Dance Dance Revolution, waiting for the skies to clear. When they did, we headed home. Things were calm. The skies were cloudy but very still, almost as if the sun were going to come out any moment. Then, very suddenly, the winds began to blow. They blew with force that I have never seen. When we were almost home (it's only about an 8-10 minute drive from the mall to home), the winds were so intense that trees were bending over at alarming angles. At home I was able to see the storm radar just before the power went out-- instead of a large storm with several spinning cells like you would see in a typical tornadic system, the entire storm system itself was spiraling over the entire region. Just like a hurricane. That 10 minute window where the skies were clear was indeed the eye of the storm.
Power goes out. Tornado sirens sound. Mama, June Bug, and Little Sprout take shelter in the bathtub. Tornado sirens stop after only a minute or two. Mama thinks the worst must be over. Mama goes to window and sees big branches falling in neighbors yards. Mama returns to shelter. Mama goes again to window and hears giant crashing noises, returns to shelter. Mama distinctly smells pine and thinks the neighbors pine tree must've come down. Mama goes again to window. More crashing, back to shelter. This goes on more a good sustained 20-30 minutes.
Then, just as suddenly as the winds had appeared, they were gone. The sun came out, the birds emerged chirping, and every single person came out of their homes to see what there was to see. The damage was immediately evident. Trees down EVERYWHERE. Every single street was blocked by one or more large trees. Half the damaged trees snapped in half. The other half were completely uprooted. Our backyard was basically non-existent-- instead there is a tangle of trees, primarily that giant pine that I knew I smelt.
Damage everywhere. People recovering from their fright. But it was absolutely amazing how EVERYONE came out and talked to each other. Neighbors who never talked to anyone else were suddenly communing in the streets. Everyone had their own version of the story to tell.
a nearby house
After talking with our immediate neighbors, June Bug and I, with baby in a front carrier, take a walk to survey the rest of the neighborhood. Everybody asks if you are okay and how your home fared, whether they know you or not. All roads are blocked. Cars are driving in circles, trying to find a way out. June Bug and I scout the roads until we discover the 'way out' and help direct the traffic. Giant trees block roads, and all of a sudden everybody with a saw is out helping clear them. June Bug and I help clear the cut branches from one particularly large mess down the street from our home. It is an amazing sight to see; everyone working together, and within an hour or two all the roads in our neighborhood are cleared.
our backyard, luckily my work table is still in one piece
Things are beginning to return to normal. Most businesses are open again and people begin to return to their solitary tv-watching lives as their power is restored.
I am sad for the trees lost. And I am sad for the people I know who have damaged homes/vehicles. But most of all I am grateful for that which this storm has given me. I am comforted by the knowledge that people WILL work together with compassion when something devastating happens. And now I am able to view our modern conveniences as just that: conveniences. We've been given a wake up call. Time to be alert. Time to value what we have. Time to let go of attatchment ot material possessions. Time to live, I mean really live our lives.
rockabye baby in the treetop when the wind blows the trees will all drop
pine playground, after 5 days of continuous yard cleanup
Wishing You Perseverance,
Mama Randa the Grateful