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Friday, June 6, 2008

Chaos From Above

Yesterday, my sister and I were on the phone discussing what, if any damage, we had incurred during the rash of severe thunderstorms that have passed through our area the last couple of days. I told her that the only things we saw on top the hill where we live were big trees bending over from high winds and buckets of rain coming down. The she related to me what happened at her place, three towns away from us.

She wrote an email to family and friends, describing the events, along with pictures of the damage the storms had caused. I've included one of those photos and her description of what happened.

"We had big winds and not big fun on Tuesday & Wednesday. The main casualties were the pear tree, the swing set, and the big white pine between our house and the driveway. The pear tree had survived 2 lightening strikes and gobs of termites and wood-pecker feedings. Now it is snapped at about 1/3 of the way up and the top 2/3rds broke the swing set down. The big, majestic white pine in front of the house was snapped from about 15' up and the top was tossed across the driveway onto our little camper."

"I had been having one of my twice-a-year phone conversations w/ Gretchen when the lightening began. Ironically, part of our conversation was about my (flaky?) continual awareness of my role in protecting my kids and my interest in self-preservation, self-defense, etc. Anywho, all hell kind of broke loose about 2 minutes after I hung up the phone. The rain became torrential. Lightening strikes seemed to occur very close to the house. The whole house felt like it was getting sucked, and the noise from the wind and snapping branches became almost deafening. It was like the whole house was in a giant car wash. I yelled for the kids to get their shoes and socks on, grabbed 2 flashlights and a hatchet, and then we went into the mouth of hell that is our storm cellar."

During my phone conversation, my sister related that the storm cellar was flooded with water and infested with spiders and God knows what else.

Photo of some of the damage.
There were reports that several tornadoes had touched down in towns close to our general area. One tornado caused a tree to slam down on the back of my friend's house in Rising Sun, IN. He's still not completely sure of the destruction, if any, it has caused. I'm going to go there tomorrow and check it out for myself.

I remember 1974 as the year for the worst tornado outbreak in this country. On April 3 and 4 of '74, three hundred and fifteen people had lost their lives to the 148 tornadoes that swept across the country. I believe those of us in the tri-state area of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky were hit the hardest. Sayler Park in Ohio was devastated.

During that time, I was 10 years old. It was an exciting time for my sister and I. Not so for my parents. We were huddled in the basement, in the dark of our spooky family room, with flashlights and a radio. We listened to the warnings, the directions the tornadoes were taking and so on. The thunder and sounds of hail stones were giving us headaches, they were so loud. Everyone once in a while, mom or dad went upstairs to get us something to eat from the kitchen or to briefly look out the windows. Mom was trying to calm us down. She was scared. Of course, dad was, too. I bet we spent at least 12 to 14 hours down there. Later, when it was all over, mom would have terrible nightmares about us being sucked up by twisters, for a long time.

The highlight of our experience was when dad decided to have a look out our basement window and shouting out that there was a tornado coming down over the hill. My heart stopped a beat. I felt like crapping my pants. I ran out of the family room and got to see my first tornado. It was surreal, nightmarish. A long, dark, snaky creature connected to the sky. Dad commanded me to go the family room. By then, my sister and mom joined dad and I and saw the thing for themselves. We were freaked out, to say the least.

Lucky for us, the tornado turned toward the east and lifted above the ground before coming toward the house. Hours later, when it was all over with and the skies had cleared, my sister and I went out into the yard and collected baseball sized hail stones and put them in the cooler. We wanted to have souvenirs. It was dad's idea and I was eager to do it, too. Heh heh.

We were joined minutes later by neighbors who related their experiences during the event. It seemed everyone came into our yard, talking and laughing, expressing how fortunate we were to be alive. It was like a festival, of sorts. What a grand ol' time we had, after the potential for tornado sucking death had dissipated.

This is what the tornado, close to mom and dad's place, looked like. Lighter though, in color.

Here's a link to the video showing the events of the tornado outbreak of 1974. Includes footage of the tornadoes that swept the tri-state area.


J. Alden Page said...

Wow! That is crazy.

I saw a small tornado once at my grandpas farm. It touched down briefly and took some of his wheat with it. We were all inside, rushing around the house trying to prepare for it. All in all no harm was done, but it definitely scared everyone. The scare was over after about an hour. It wasn't near as bad as what happened to you or your sister.

I watched that video. That would be a pretty intense event to live through!

Anonymous said...

Hey Kelly -

Don't forget, your Great Aunt Emma Fry was killed 4/3/74, by a huge tornado in Greensburg. I remember it well, since they very stupidly had an "open casket." I was 14 and it horrified me to see her face all smashed and bruised.

Sweet Dreams from Aunty Kay

Anonymous said...

Your Grandpa's old hay barn was leveled by the wind on Thursday. I was quite upset, I've spent lots of hours in that old barn. Another piece of my childhood blown to bits!

Aunty Kay

Kelly said...

Ah, I didn't know that. I have a memory the size of a pea. Bad judgement on their part to have an "open casket" when she was in that condition. I bet you were horrified. I also forgot Grandpa's old hay barn. Hmmmm.

Drowsey Monkey said...

omg - that's unreal. That last photo is just too frightening.

btw - I think Sarah Jessica Parker is gorgeous! :)

Kelly said...

Yeah, back then when the tornado was coming down the hill towards us, it did seem unreal. That was maybe the second or third time I thought I was going to die. I've come close to death in my life no less than half a dozen times.

Anyway, enough drama. So ya really think Sarah Jessica is gorgeous?

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