Growing up in Arkansas, I’ve been through my fair share of tornado warning and spent my time in my grandma’s storm cellar and in tubs.
What happened on Wednesday was unlike anything I’ve ever been through. In fact, it was unlike anything anyone had been through in North Alabama. I don’t know the exact time the first tornado warning was issued–I slept through it–but they never stopped. Between the tornado warnings and the flood warnings I was texted from the Weather Channel, I’m sure Tucker was thanking his lucky stars that he put me on a 1k text/month plan.
By lunch time, the kids were enjoying their turkey sandwiches from the comfort of our tub and Sophie was enjoying watching them enjoy their turkey sandwiches.
I watched the storms’ paths on my laptop–THANK YOU, WHNT[!!!] for your live streaming video–each time the tornado sirens would sound…and that happened just about every fifteen minutes or so. At one point, we had four different tornadoes within just a couple of miles from us and these storms were moving fast, like 60-70 miles per hour.
The power eventually went out which meant our wireless router shut off and we had to rely on streaming radio from Tucker’s cellphone.
The kids slept in bed with us. That sucked. Cara kept kicking me in the head. Hard. Even in her sleep, she has righteous aim. I ended up sleeping on the couch.
And it was dark. Very, very dark. I never fully realized how much I had relied on the street lights.
We woke up the next morning with no power and a fridge full of food we bought just a few days prior. I packed our frozen meat in our cooler and we started searching for gas so we could make it back to Arkansas.
We should have had at least a half a tank of gas in both vehicles but we didn’t. And there wasn’t a single gas station in Huntsville that was pumping gas because there wasn’t a single place in the city of Huntsville that had power.
For the record, I don’t know how many people retweeted my Twitter message but it made me cry. Good tears. Y’all never cease to amaze me. Screw all those people who say internet friends aren’t “real” friends. You guys proved them wrong in a big way.
Tucker’s folks have friends in Decatur and they drove to Tennessee and bought us ten gallons of gas and that got us home. On the way, we saw a snippets of the devastation. Houses gone. Completely gone. Nothing left. People standing around where their homes used to be. I saw a half of a horse in a field. After that, I quit looking; I was too scared of what I would see.
Our plan was to drop Sophie off at Mom’s and drive to Tucker’s folks in Pocahontas but check the news–most of Pocahontas is under water. So, for the time being, we’re bunking at Mom’s. The kids and Sophie are loving the backyard and the dirt and the bugs. I’m loving the electricity and the hot water and the comforting sense of normalcy.
We don’t know when we’ll be able to go home. The power company is saying it will be a minimum of seven days before they might be able to get power turned back on; the local government has told the schools to not even think about resuming classes before Tuesday. They’ve implemented a dusk till dawn curfew. One person has already been shot for breaking into a convenience store.
I worry about the people who are still there. The people who live in our apartment complex. The people who either can’t leave or think it won’t get too bad and they can just ride it out. I worry about the effect all of this is going to have on the kids though I know kids bounce back way faster than their parents do.
But, in the end, we’re lucky.
We’re fine. Our kids are fine. We have family and friends who love us and we’re going to get through this.
Unfortunately, that’s more than I can say for those who lost their lives on Wednesday.