April 26, 2011 - Our dishwasher had been on the fritz for the past month and a half and I was expecting the repairmen to arrive sometime that morning. It was supposed to have been fixed the week before, but they forgot to put us on the list, so when I called them to find out when they were coming, they said "sorry, it will be next week". I had called Monday and they hadn't talked with LG yet to figure out what they should do to repair the dishwasher. Monday evening, while I was out shopping, the repairman called to say that they would come later in the week. I was irritated, but couldn't vent my frustration in the store. I called Tuesday to suggest that they make my dishwasher a priority since this was their 7th or 8th visit (wouldn't you lose track?) and they would only reschedule to wednesday morning. I encouraged them again to make things right and fix it sooner because wednesday wouldn't work well for me, but they refused. It was irratating to say the least. Becky had a well-child checkup to go to wednesday morning, which meant that Tom would have to take her if I couldn't.
April 27, 2011 - Wednesday arrived, and Tom took Becky to work with him, and I sent along some coloring books to keep her happy and hopefully quiet. Then I waited for the dishwasher repairmen to come. There was bad weather, so I didn't expect much from them. Around 10:00am, I called to see if/when they were coming. They said hopefully around noon, so I called Tom to let him know he would have to take Becky. The storms passed through and it became pretty outside again. Tom took Becky to her checkup, then took her out to lunch at Panera Bread for a fun treat.
I fed Tommy and Nikki lunch and they played very well together. I got on facebook and saw that more storms were heading our way. I watched the weather and finally sent a text to my trainer that I was going to plan on just staying home instead of working out because the weather was so bad. I went downstairs and started working on my quilts to pass the time. I have yet to finish one of them, so I figured with the possible storm approaching, what better way to pass the time. I called Tom to find out when he was planning on coming home, because I heard that the storms were going to be really rough and the trees outside were already bending in the breeze. He said they would be home between 3 and 4 or when everybody else had left.
I went upstairs and started to get ready for the upcoming storms - something I never, EVER do. I dragged all my earthboxes into the garage - we have 5 of them and I'm sure each one weighed over 50 or 60 lbs. Then I started bringing sleeping bags into the basement. That was another weird thing for me to do. I never take storms like this seriously, but for some reason, I thought it would be fun for the kids to pretend we were camping or something like that during the storm, so if it really DID get bad (and I knew it wouldn't) we could have fun down there.
Tom got home with Becky around 3:30pm and she joined Tommy and Nikki as they watched the movie Cars. Tom suggested I work on hemming up some of his pants that I've been putting off for forever since I already had my sewing machine out. So I hemmed up the pants and ran upstairs to iron them. Then when I ran back downstairs to hem some more, I grabbed drinks or snacks and put them downstairs. Not typical of me for "bad" weather. I have a hard time remembering to bring things up or downstairs when I'm supposed to!
We ate a corn on the cob supper and the weather turned stormier, so we headed back downstairs, not bothering to finish putting supper away (shame on us!). We watched it get stormier and windier and still weren't worried. The power went off about 6 or 6:15, so we let the kids watch movies on our laptop. Around 7:30pm, it was still stormy out, so we started another movie for the kids instead of sending them to bed. I guess I figured letting them stay up a little late wouldn't be too bad. Around 8:00p, it started getting scary outside, so I moved the kids into the mechanical room with all the blankets and padding. They didn't care what I had them do so long as they got to watch Beauty & the Beast (one of their favorites). Tom kept pacing and watching the sky - going outside to see the trees bend over and I don't remember what else. I started getting nervous and reminded him to come back inside.
It was about 8:15pm when we watched the sky light up with lightning. I can honestly say, I have never seen so much lightning in my life. So I told Tom I was going to go back into the room with the kids and he probably should too. People started texting me, asking if we were ok. We were, so I texted back that we hadn't seen any tornadoes yet, but it was pretty bad outside. I had just texted my mom that we were all ok, when the laptop turned off completely. It still had about 40 minutes remaining, so it shouldn't have just turned off, but since the weather was so crazy out, I'm sure that's what turned it off. Seconds later, Tom came running into the room and shut the door. He said something about it being pretty wild out there, then it suddenly got really loud and the doors started rattling.
We all hunkered down and got close together. The pressure in the room increased significantly. I would compare it to being in an airplane - but the pressure was SO much greater than that. Somehow through it all, I wasn't afraid. I felt calm and safe - which under the circumstances, was not the typical reaction from me. I even shouted to the kids over the noise that we were in the middle of the Tornado and that God was watching over us. I asked them if they wanted to say a prayer and Tommy said a short one, then I added one of my own.
The noise was so loud above us, I was certain that at least the roof was gone upstairs, if not the entire floor. It sounded like rain was directly above us. Then it started to grow quiet. We waited a few minutes longer, because I wasn't sure it was over yet. I'd heard that it could get quiet in the eye of the storm - so I wanted to be sure that wasn't it! We peeked out the door and Tom commented that the windows were covered in mud. I noticed an eerie pink view out the window and I said unbelievingly, "Tom, the trees are gone." He said, "No, I think that's just the mud on the windows" then stepped out to check. I was glued to the room with the kids -not sure what to do. Tom came back and said, "Wow, Christy - all the trees are gone. All of them!" He must have been in shock because he kept running out to check on things and I'd have to call him back in. He ran upstairs and told me that it was a mess upstairs, but we still had an upstairs.
Tom really wanted to go check on our neighbors, but I told him we needed to stay in the room, because leaving it was making the kids nervous and we could check on them in the morning when we could see and know if another tornado was coming. We both tried to lay down, but the adrenaline pumping through our veins made it hard to sleep. Thankfully, the kids all fell asleep quickly and slept all night long.
April 28, 2011 - The next day was surreal. We got up at about 5:15am and started walking around the house, just taking it all in. The window by our dining room table had been blown across the room into the kitchen, breaking one of our chairs in the process. The china cabinet beside it - with all my china dishes and crystal - was completely untouched. The fish tank opposite the china hutch was also untouched. I had seedlings growing right beside the window that blew out - and while some got knocked over - they remained unharmed. Amazing.
We walked toward the living room and saw that the door to the attic had been blown OFF it's hinges and completely turned itself around. Up in the attic we found lots of the paper plates and plastic ware that we had been using since our dishwasher was broken. I had hemmed some of Tom's pants the day before and they had been blown up the stairs and dropped on the floor of the attic. Some very important papers I needed to mail off got blown up the stairs as well - but were recoverable in all the attic insulation - and not blown off to one of the neighbors houses like so many other people's belongings. The beam in the roof over our girls room had been broken by something large, but it was fixable and didn't damage their room.
Our Master bedroom had a broken window with glass spread throughout the room. We found a piece of glass embedded into Tom's dresser that we won't be able to remove - but it will always serve as a reminder. All our laundry was in our room ready to be folded and put away - and somehow it remained in the pile I set it in - despite being in the path of the glass.
We walked outside and saw the damage done outside. Tom had parked his Tacoma outside the garage, and the tornado pushed it parallel to the garage. It knocked out a window and put a dent in the side of his truck, but the truck is otherwise fine. My Expedition had a window knocked out of it and some dings in the windshield, but was otherwise untouched.
The chicken coop got destroyed by the twister - but we were able to find all 10 chicks and ducks. One of the ducks had a broken wing, which was sad, but it survived! We called some friends to find out if anyone would be able to take them for us, but we weren't able to reach anyone Thursday night.We decided not to tie our dog Buddy up Thursday evening, thinking the birds would be ok with all the trees and debris covering them, but we forgot how dumb birds are. Buddy had a great time, and when we came to check on him Friday morning, he had found all 10 of the birds as well. Oops - a sad lesson learned by us.
We went back inside after surveying the damage and tried to figure out what should be done. Shock is a weird thing though - and even though Tom and I knew we needed to do something - we weren't sure what to do. Sweeping a floor has never been so difficult for me. I would pick up the broom and sweep a few steps and then just suddenly stop. Thankfully Tom's brother Bill joined us and started working on getting things straightened up inside the house.
Around lunchtime we decided to get the kids to Bills house - so we trekked through all the downed trees, praying we would get to the main road without getting lost. About 45 minutes later, we made it and Shari took our kids home with her to their house. Then we realized we would need to begin clearing the road. We went back to the house to grab chain saws, then Bill, Tom and I then started to work on clearing the road back to our house. Our friends Ronnie and Marggie came with food and Ronnie stayed to help clear the road. We had been so overwhelmed, we hadn't even thought about eating.
After working on the road for about an hour, I realized that I could request help on Facebook - so I did. By about 5:00pm we had 12 people helping us clear the road. Ronnie would hook his jeep up to a tree and pull it with his wench, and others would cut down trees ahead for him to pull away. Those without chainsaws helped move the smaller branches to the side of the road. Our friend Clint brought one of his heavy machines to help toss trees out of the road about 4pm. We worked until dusk - and when it was almost too dark to see, Clint moved the last tree out of our 1/2 mile road. What a miracle!
I am so thankful God protected us from the atrocities of this storm. It shouldn't have turned out the way it did. But I'm thankful that God protected me and my family - and even chose to protect our belongings as well. What an awesome God we serve.