It was a ‘don’t get dressed, listen to sappy music, drink coffee with a good book’ kind of day in our house. The dreary weather outside with the cold drizzle and grey skies did not inspire me to do anything but stay indoors. My 3 year old and I were home alone, with Sesame Street running in the background, and I was working in the office with my cup o’ Joe. I never listen to the weather reports unless its absolutely necessary, but I just happen to have in-laws that are constantly on the ball with that kind of thing and received a phone call warning from them that afternoon, “Please keep an eye out, ” they said. “We’re in a Tornado Watch.”
I’ve lived in Georgia all of my life, and heard lots of sirens and seen lots of storms, but the worst of it was always in someone else’s backyard, someone else’s town. When the sirens went off last night, I did what Im sure a lot of people did… I turned on the TV to the weather station, but I stayed upstairs working – rationalizing that ‘it’s not coming here” “It’s in another town”. It wasn’t until the news broadcaster started rattling off some familiar road names that I actually started to pay attention to what was happening outside. Bells Ferry Rd? Hwy 92 in Woodstock? That’s right here! Like…right here! I looked out the window but all I could see was that dreary gray and that cold drizzle. If a tornado was in that, I wouldn’t be able to see it until it was right on top of me. I finally heeded the warning of the sirens going off in the distance, and my daughter and I retreated to the basement – to the underground laundry room in the far back of the house.
We sat there on the cold floor, she and I, with my cell phone on my lap watching the weather doppler move across the screen. I called my husband, he was 10 minutes away from home, letting him know to drive carefully because the storms were bad. “Get a blanket and pillows to cover yourselves up, in case there is flying debris from any windows or doors busting out,” he suggested. I grabbed some pillows to sit on and a blanket for over our heads. It was silent in that back room, only the sound of the static from the phone could be heard. I told him I would hang up so I could keep watching the doppler radar. I hung up, walked in the silence to the door, across the room to the glass windows and lifted the blinds up to see if I could see anything in the distance.
In that silence, a tornado went through our home.
Looking out on the deck, our decor, furniture, watering cans, were flying around in the air, hitting against walls and shooting up into the sky. The metal pergola was twisting, bending, breaking and the fabric was shredding into the air. I ran back to the room in the back, throwing the blanket over our heads as an intense pressure caused our ears to pop, like they do on a plane on takeoff. The house creaked and moaned, shivered from the wind that was whirling around us and up the street. And all in that moment, time stood still, and we were in that basement under the blanket for minutes, hours even.. but only seconds later it stopped. The cold rain kept drizzling, and the sky was still grey, and the silence ended.
My phone was ringing. My neighbor was yelling in panic on the other end, “Did you feel it!! It was a tornado! A tornado! Are you Ok? Come outside!” We walked up the stairs and out the front door to see every neighbor out in their front yards and in the street. Trees in almost every yard were ripped, torn, cracked, and uprooted. The metal covers of the electric boxes in the yards were missing. Pieces of shingles, siding, insulation strewn across the ground like a town shaken up in a snow globe. My neighbors siding was gone. Across the street, more siding, some shingles, a hole in the roof. Someone’s garage door was wrapped around their car. Another neighbor – the missing garage door pulled from it along with most of the garage ceiling, the back wall of the house splintered into a million pieces of glass and wood. The electricity must be turned off as the water is pouring in from the roof above. There’s a chimney in another neighbors backyard. Half of his side wall is gone. Another house. Another entire wall gone, you can see inside his bathroom. More roof damage. more siding. more shingles. We found some of the things from our porch up the street and around the corner. We found our watering can. We found our outdoor umbrella. We are still looking for the rain barrel lid.
Everyone was asking “Are you okay? Is everyone okay? Can I help you? Lets get some tarps on that.” It’s amazing that in an event such as this, that everyone comes together in a way that makes you proud of the community you live in. Police cars and firetrucks sirens are in the distance. Neighbors I have never met are coming down the street to give a helping hand and offer a comforting word. There are people crying, my hands are shaking. This was too close to home.
Today will most likely be known as “Tornado Clean-Up Day”.
Roof inspections are taking place, tarps are covering holes and roofs. Men with chain saws are chopping up big trees across yards and in homes. I saw my neighbor cross the street and start raking things off my front yard. A team of guys from a local church ministry lend a helping hand cleaning up and moving debris. Those with homes too far gone have found temporary places to stay. Over the next few days, most of our street will begin to look like it was before, perhaps with a few less trees. My hands are still shaking. I will never take a siren for granted. At the top of our hill, the street sign lays on its side in the neighbors yard. “Whirlaway Place” it says. And that’s exactly what it is.
This is a guest post by Emily P. Emily is a wife, mother, blogger, and owner of Doodlebug Boutique : “Hand-crafted hair bows, tutus, & Accessories for your little Doodlebug!”. Find more of her creations on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DoodlebugBoutique