Saturday, August 27, 2011


My town experienced a horrible tornado on April 27, 2011.  It's funny how I just know that date.  I don't even have to look it up.  I realize this happened months ago, and I really don't want to get into a lot of detail about it, but it's something I would like to document because it has changed our lives forever.

It started that afternoon after school.  I had heard all day that we may be getting some severe weather.  Normally this would just mean that we would stay home for the evening and go about our business as usual.  Church was still on schedule, and life seemed pretty normal.  When I got home, I turned on the news just to hear what they were saying.  It was a little bit exciting just because somewhat bad weather around here is kind of a big deal.  Milk flies off the shelf at an amazing rate, bread disappears, and jugs of water fill the trunks of every car.  Sometimes it is humorous.  So I did none of those things.  It was pointless in my mind.  Even if there was bad weather, you could just go to the store the next day to get something.  Why do you have to stock up?  So with the news on, I began cleaning up the house, catching up on the laundry (haha, y'all know how that goes with me), and trying to decide what to fix for dinner.  I actually remember that dinner was going to be smoothies for Adam and me because we were both trying to lose weight.

As I was cleaning, I was listening to the t.v.  I heard blips about seeking shelter, staying in the most central room of your house, etc.  It started getting very dark outside.  I called Adam to tell him he needed to head home because it was starting to look bad.  I am ok as long as everyone I know is home during a storm, but if my family is out somewhere, then I worry.  Adam told me it was getting very bad where he was on the interstate, so I let him get off the phone.  I heard the wind picking up, so I decided maybe I should get the bathroom ready in case we were going to be camping out in there for a bit. 

Little did I know, this would be the last picture of this tree in our back yard.

This is where we hid out during the storm.  Just so you know, a perfect storm shelter = lots of pillows, a computer to watch the weather on the news, a toilet, a dog bed, blankets, books, and a Bible.  We were gonna use the oppornity to catch up on some preparation for our middle school class at church.

So Heidi and I hung out in and out of the storm shelter for a while until Adam got home.  The weather settled down, and we were able to drink our smoothies, and relax for a bit.  Some bad cells came through, but we managed well.  We thought it was pretty much over.  The newscasters said there was one more cell to come through, and that once it was out it would all be over.  As we watched the radar, we realized that cell would be coming directly through our town.  It looked bad.  There was no way it would miss us.  But the cell didn't seem to be as significant as the others.  At least that's how the weather men made it sound.  But nevertheless, back to the "shelter" we go.

Heidi is terrified of storms, so she was actually in the bathtub.

Watching coverage of the weather on the laptop in the bathroom.

As the cell came closer, our power began flickering.  We heard pops from different parts of the house.  Soon the power was completely off, and we began hearing strange noises.  I really don't know how to describe it except for howling, screeching, popping.....just strange.  I jumped in the bathtub on top of Heidi, and Adam put pillows on top of me.  There was no room in the tub for him (he still gives me grief that I chose Heidi over him, haha), so he got next to the tub and put Heidi's dog bed over him.  It was all over in a few seconds. 

When we finally decided it was safe to go out, I really thought there would be no house when we opened the bathroom door.  Thankfully there was.  I looked around and suprisingly couldn't find anything wrong.  But that changed when we stepped outside.  Neighbors were running frantic around the neighborhood checking on one another. 

This trampoline landed in the culdesac in front of our house.  It was not from our street.

These are the trees down in our next door neighbor's yard.

I really couldn't believe that a tornado had come over our house.  A real tornado.  I was really shocked.  But it wasn't until my neighbor decided to venture out that we learned how serious everything really was.  "Our town is gone."  That's what she said.  Gone?  Surely she is exaggerating.  What does "gone" mean? Adam and I, being the curious people that we are, decided to go out and see what she meant.  We took Heidi with us, thinking it would be an easy outing.  Words cannot describe what we saw.  There were power lines down everywhere, and we weren't sure what was live and what wasn't.  Adam will tell you that he knew, and I took his word for it because I really didn't have a choice.  Everything was gone.  No gas station, no McDonald's, no Food Lion, no Ace Hardware, no houses, houses across the road....I could not process what I was seeing.  It really didn't make any sense.  It felt like a dream.  Just when I felt like I had seen enough, we remembered that Nannie was home alone.  She lives very close to us.  The cell phones were not working, and neither were the land lines.  So we had to get to her.  The roads were blocked, so we had to park at the bottom of her neighborhood and walk.  We had to leave Heidi in the truck. We climbed over trees, under trees on our bellies, and tiptoed over down lines.  It was literally the scariest night of my entire life.  I cried the whole way up to my Nannie's house.  We finally made it to her and found that she was ok.  We wanted to take her with us, but we knew she would have a lot of trouble making the trek down to the truck.  She said she would be ok for the night and would come stay with us the next day. 

The days after that are a blur.  There was so much going on.  Adam was working long days with the phone company, and I was volunteering at our church.  Our church just immediately went into action.  We had supplies coming in from all over the nation, and we began providing 3 free meals each day to the community.  We formed groups to go out and help people clean up their yards, their houses, and just listen to their stories.  It was unbelieveable.  But I soon realized, WE didn't do any of that.  God did it.  God knew how to use our chuch.  He had trained us for this event, we just didn't know it.  It was really amazing to see how God had trained people on different mission trips to cook for crowds, organize volunteer work, create inventories and stock groceries for our stockpile, and so much more.  I just saw God everywhere I looked.  It was a breaking but beautiful time. 

These are my high school stadium's football stands.  I spent many Friday nights in these stands playing in the band.

These are just a few of the pictures Adam took as he went out to help assess and repair the town.  It is sad to see these photos.  Unfortunately, our town is not too much different since that day.  We have cleaned up a lot of debris, but there are still many buildings and homes that need to be rebuilt.  Our town did lose several people on that day.  There was a whole family that was killed in this nightmare.  It was the family of a co-worker and friend.  Please keep my co-worker in your prayers.  I know now is when it is hard for her.  After the news cameras are gone, after the help is gone, and when reality is here. 

Well I wrote this post saying I didn't want to get into detail, but I guess I just wanted to get it all out.  Since the tornado, we have had our privacy fences rebuilt, our downed tree removed, and are waiting in the long list of people who need to get a new roof.  Our town is still rebuilding and will be for years to come.  There are some areas of town that haven't even been touched yet.  But we serve a big God.  He has a plan for us- me, my husband, our church, and our community.  What a mighty God we serve! 

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