Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Scary Week

Sunday after church we came home to eat a bite of lunch then drove into town to an auction Mom was working. The kids wanted to go to Joplin to shop, but thank God Paul and I both felt that with the weather being iffy and storms forecasted to move in that evening we decided not to. We are totally big chickens when it comes to weather and don't stray too far from the 'fraidy hole when we know it's likely to get bad. We didn't even go to church that night, however Mom and Dad did. I called her while they were driving toward the church (which is about 2.5 miles from our house) and said, "Keep your phone on silent if you need to, but keep it where you can see it go off. I will text you if we go under any warnings. It takes less than five minutes to get here, so be ready." She assured me she would, but seeing as how she thinks I'm a nervous Nelly with weather I figured she wouldn't heed my warnings.

Paul and I had the kids pack their 'nader bags and put them underground, then we settled in to watch the storms roll in. We were watching the local NBC affiliate when the tornado warning for Joplin was issued and were also watching the tower cam when the tornado appeared on the screen seemingly unbeknownst to even the newscasters on the air live. They were showing graphics of tornado safety tips and the radar, but when they popped it over to the tower cam even they were feeling the same shock and awe we were as we saw a HUGE tornado hitting the city of Joplin. We could see the flashes as it took out power poles. We all five sat in horror and watched it slowly destroy everything in its path. I happened to be on the phone with Sis, who lives in Yukon, OK, and I kept saying, "You don't understand! It's happening RIGHT NOW! Even Jeremiah Cook and Caitlin McCardle didn't know it was there and THEY'RE THE METEOROLOGISTS!" She hung up with me to call her ex because he was on his way back here to Miami with my niece and nephew at the time. They weren't in danger, but she wanted him to be aware of what was going on.

Our NOAA radio was about to wear itself out it was going off over and over with various t-storm watches and warnings, followed by tornado warnings right and left. I text Mom and told her it was getting bad and we were going to the cellar. I was on Facebook and saw where someone said there was a tornado on the ground in Fairland. We are about five miles north of Fairland. That was when I called Mom. In church. She answered in a whisper and I said, "WHERE ARE YOU?" She said, "Hudson Creek. At church. Why?" I said, "Mom, I just heard there is a tornado on the ground in Fairland. Y'all need to take cover NOW."  Mom interrupted the preacher and told him. He said, "Oh. Okay, well, we should probably stop what we're doing then." About that time a first responder's radio went off and he ran out the door. He came back in moments later and said the tornado was in Ketchum, not Fairland, so the threat was somewhat less, but still imminent. They prayed and dismissed. Mom and Dad came here right after we came up from the cellar. We went in the house and watched in horror as the first pictures from Joplin started coming in.

Mike Bettes, with the Weather Channel, has been doing his Great Tornado Hunt this past week and drove into Joplin on the heels of the devastating twister. When a seasoned, veteran meterologist is rendered speechless and cries shamelessly on camera surveying the devastation and horror you know it's bad. We sat and cried as we saw the town we knew so well was now completely unrecognizeable. The surreality of it was stunning.

Monday we woke up to rain and the rain wouldn't stop. It rained so hard our main pond here at the ranch overflowed its banks and then some. Our driveway washed out to where I wasn't sure my van wouldn't get lost in it. Sam was supposed to go to basketball camp that morning, but his coach called me to see what I thought and also reassured me that they would take the kids to the safe room at the slightest hint of anything severe. It eased my mind and I decided to go ahead and take him. Then about 30 minutes later as I'm running my three kids and Conner to the cellar because there is rotation over my house, I text Coach and said we wouldn't be there. He already had kids in the safe room. By noon, the severe threat was over, however the rain just kept coming. I decided to go ahead and send Kady to the afternoon girls session of basketball camp and Sam stayed with her. At 12:30 the water was over our dirt road, but still passable. By 2:30 when Abby, Conner and I left the house to pick them up it was so high it was up the bottoms of the van doors. I called Paul and said, "You should probably come home as soon as you can. We're going to be flooded in soon." I turned out onto the highway and made it nearly a mile to the low water bridge and watched a car stall out trying to go through. I turned around and made a frantic call to my mother: "MY KIDS ARE IN FAIRLAND AND I CANNOT GET TO THEM!!" She tried to direct me down other dirt roads, but my van sits so low I didn't dare chance anything. I called Chad, Conner's daddy, and asked if he could get to the kids. He said he could and that he thought he could get through the low water bridge, too, seeing as how he drives a big ol' Dodge. Paul called to say he was in his Thunderbird and could I call Chad to see if he could wait for him, too? Poor Chad ran a taxi service that day, ferrying wandering Hoovers home. The Highway Department closed the low water bridge just as they got there and after an hour and a half of driving around trying to find passable roads, they made it here.

Miami canceled school the following day because of the widespread flooding and threat of severe weather the following day (Tuesday). By morning we were completely flooded in, so Courtney couldn't have made it anyway. Paul couldn't get out to go to work. By noon the rain had stopped, allowing the water to recede enough that we could get back into Fairland to pick up Paul's car, so we took Kady to afternoon ball camp and Paul spent the afternoon repairing our poor driveway while Abby, Sam and I put as much valuable stuff as we could fit into the cellar. We've made many a run to the ol' 'fraidy hole, but this past Tuesday was the first day I put baby pictures, the deed to the house and other important documents down there. I went to Paul and said, "The box isn't that big and if you think there is room, can you help me put the box of the kids' baby pictures in the cellar?" He got a mischievous grin on his face and started to make a joke. Then I busted into tears and said, "Paul, I'm scared. Please don't." He grabbed my hand and said, "Baby, go get the box. We'll get those pictures underground." We were completely and fully prepared to be blown away. The anticipation was horrible and I clenched my jaw so hard all day I was pretty sure my teeth were in danger of breaking. After picking Kady up from camp we just sat and waited, flipping the TV back and forth between local channels and TWC.

They closed the Canadian County courthouse early, which is where Tater works. She and her husband work in El Reno and live in Yukon and had planned to ride out the storm in their guest bathroom, but as they saw it making a path for El Reno they decided to head into the City where they rode out the storms in an underground parking garage. El Reno was hit and five were killed.

Back in the old days you ran for cover from the tornado when you saw it lifting off the neighbor's cows and silo, today we are given 24 hours warning, which is by all means a good thing, but still nerve-wracking. We went down into the cellar twice that night. Fortunately the storms didn't hit here like they did around us. Welch got some wicked winds, Grove had some tornados over the lake, but we managed to get by with some minor rain, moderate winds and not even a single hail stone. Praise God!

Today Paul is in Joplin helping some of his family's family empty what's left of their elderly uncle's house. The man is 97 years old and the house is demolished. The things left inside have been subject to theft the past few days. They are working furiously to empty what they can to keep the heartless looters away. I don't understand how people can be so low and I try to focus on the good I've seen coming to Joplin rather than the scammers and looters and heartless evildoers who plan to picket the town for their "wickedness" that caused the tornado. I try to think about the Tide Loads of Hope truck, the Duracell truck, the fact that Sam's Club is allowing anyone to shop there without membership, about the $1 million each that Home Depot, Walmart and Tamko Industries has donated to the cause, the KC Chiefs players who are clearing yards, the little girl in Texas who is sending her own personal belongings to Joplin, the doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers and volunteers who are working tirelessly.

I pray and praise God in the midst of it all. I am very detached from it really, and everyone says seeing it in person is so much worse than what you see on TV and the internet. I hug my kids a little tighter. I am thankful. I am sad. I am proud. I am hopeful.

4 comments:

Jennifer said...

Should have warned me to have kleenex in hand before reading this post.

I am so amazed at the outpouring of goodness that is coming out of people and corporations but in total disbelief and shock at the looters, thieves and heartless scammers.

I don't know when my emotions are going to finally even out. The valium I was prescribed the other night is helping.

Seeing the damage first hand on Thursday.. all I could do was cry... and hold the hands of my two youngest nieces and listen as jaeden explained to her 22month old niece what a tornado is like and what it does.

God is Good.. and I think we are going to see great things come for all of us in the area.

Jeankfl said...

This has really shaken our whole area to the core. We've had occasional houses, or marinas, or something destroyed, but never a whole center of town, and so horribly. The stories are just riveting and nauseating. And the looters make me want to string them up. Especially after watching the Japanese be so patient, obedient, calm, and quiet, with NO LOOTING in the aftermath of even larger destruction. Makes me angry at people in this country. This is one of the richest countries in the world, and we are the most blessed people in the world, and all people want is anything they can steal or take. No one even thinks anything of giving back wrong change, or too much of anything. They just celebrate "taking" someone for something. Makes me so ready for the end of time!! I'm not usually so down on things, but that's just my mood this week. lol You all stay safe.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting your Blog-readers know about this. I have been checking in to see if there's any news of Miami.

Let's hope this stuff is OVER now~

Emjay (faithful reader, seldom commenter)

Cazzie!!! said...

Thank GOD you did not go to Joplin! I was thinking of you when I sighted the NEWS tonight! Amen xoxo