Monday, September 12, 2016

Tornado


All photos on this post are from the Kokomo Herald or the Kokomo Tribune, unless otherwise noted

An EF3 tornado hit our town on August 24, 2016. I was sitting at home on the phone with my sister when an alert came up on phone. I didn't think much of it (we live in tornado country, so warnings don't always mean a tornado will hit). Finally, Ben called me and said that at work they were all taking shelter, so I realized this was the real deal. I took Delaney and Ephraim, tried to remain calm and headed down to the basement. Cheyenne was still at school, but I felt at peace that she was safe. Luckily Ben and I were able to text each other throughout the whole ordeal, so that was very comforting. My only prior experience with tornadoes has been from the media. In movies, it's always really obvious a tornado is about to hit. It's super windy, stuff is flying around, and there's sirens going off. In real life, I could have completely missed the fact that a tornado hit less than a mile from my house. It really wasn't that windy, and there were no sirens (I learned later, good signs are-- a tornado "warning" instead of a tornado "watch," really dark, ominous clouds that are moving fast). We were very fortunate that nobody in our town died or was seriously injured. And in our own family and most of those we know, we sustained no damage to our homes.

Our power went out about 3:30pm (little did I know the tornado was currently knocking over a power pole not far from our house at that very moment) and we were without power for nearly two days. After Ben got home from work, we went as a family to see what had changed in our little town.

It was amazing to imagine a wind so powerful it could uproot entire 100-year-old trees.


A photo I took hours after the tornado hit as we were driving around

Or take off an entire roof and destroy houses.

A photo I took at some cleanup I participated in 

I've always thought lineman were pretty cool, but I gained an entirely new respect for people who work for the power company.


I also learned a couple of things. The tornado was a "blessing" for several people-- people who wanted a fresh start, people who needed a change, old houses that needed repairs (it certainly wasn't the case for everybody... but I was surprised that there was plenty of "good" that came out of the tornado). 

I also learned that during a disaster (at least for me when I was without power), more than I wanted someone to donate hand-me-down clothes or someone to fill up my fridge with food, I wanted comfort. I wanted sameness. I missed the everyday things that we had always done, and just wanted that to return. I wanted to be in my own house, doing the things we had always done. I hope I remember that the next time I encounter tragedy. People really do want to take care of themselves, and finding ways you can help them do that, rather than doing things for them, is a good gift.

That being said, clean up is a job everyone can do. And "many hands make light work" is the fastest way for things to return to the "normal" we all crave.

 Ben watched the kids one afternoon and I had the chance to go out with some other people and do some clean up. It was really good for my soul. Giving up your time to help others really does that, doesn't it? It helps you recognize how much you have to be grateful for, and how necessary your own hands are in helping others.
A photo I took during cleanup-- our job was to pick up blown off roofs and debris and move it to the alleyway for city trucks to come pick up and dispose of. Picking up roofs was dangerous (nails! Everywhere!) and hard, physically. And important part of emergency preparedness is your physical body!!
Other helpers were people who handed out food and water to those volunteering during the cleanup-- there's always something you can do.





It's interesting how in our world fraught with disasters, we can look at pictures and really have no concept of what it is really like. It's a completely different feeling in real life, being on the ground, seeing destruction. It's a really eery feeling as you drive down our main highway and look to the right, a subdivision called Cedar Crest looks like it's been chopped off by a razor blade. Something inside of you just screams out, "something is not right here," like your subconscious recognizes that something that has always been the same is not there anymore.

This disaster, more than anything, solidified to me that there is nothing too hard for the Lord. Do devastation too great, no burden too heavy. He answers our prayers through others, and provides comfort when we seek Him. This life and all of its challenges are but chances for us to turn to Him to find solace in his real, and everlasting peace.

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