Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tornado 2011

We are ok and we are grateful.  Many people and families are not ok and we grieve for them and their loved ones. 

I want to share our little story because it documents a part of our life.  I want to preface by saying that we did not suffer.  So many people suffered unbearable losses of lives.  Possessions don't matter, houses don't matter, lives matter.  So, this documentation may seem a little dramatic at times...and, it was, when it was happening because we didn't know what was in store.  But, please don't think that I am likening our situation to the people that suffered tragedy in our state.  I repeat, we did not suffer any loss and we feel for those that did suffer.

On Tuesday, April 26th, the kiddos and I loaded up for an impromtu trip to my mama's in Sheffield which is in Northwest corner of Alabama.  Sister Amelia was already there and we had some things to take care of together.  We knew that some severe weather was coming, but, like everyone else, didn't think it would be anything more than severe thunderstorms. 

Still, at bedtime, I had the diaper bag packed with essentials for the babes, snacks, bottled water, bottles, formula, diapers, pull ups, socks and shoes for FRR, my wallet and contacts.  It all started about 4am with the sirens.  I shot out of bed and put on my tennis shoes.  My mom came running down the hall and telling everyone to get down to the basement.  Amelia came running out of her room with Rutledge wrapped around her still asleep.  She was freaking out....she hates inclement weather.  I grabbed my diaper bag and Gaines and we got down to the basement. 

We all just sat around...I started out with both babes in my lap.  After a few minutes of adjusting them and trying to get comfortable I realized that if something did hit the house or if a tornadoe did touchdown I wouldn't be able to physically shield BOTH of my children.  I knew that if something happened I would have to wrap my body around them and try to protect them from flying debris, etc.   I wanted to hold them both.  I knew that I shouldn't.  I gave Rutledge back to Amelia. 

The wind was really loud, the house shook, things got quiet.  We didn't know if it was heading toward us or not, we just took cover like the sirens told us to do.  We now know that the tornado was several miles away and that we were experiencing straight line winds.  We heard a soft scratching sound against the house...its a brick house.  The wind had stopped and it was raining a little.  My stepdad and brother went outside to check on things and saw that their next door neighbors 200+ year old red oak tree had fallen across their yard, our yard and towards our house.  The scratching had been the top of the tree scraping against the house as it fell down.

It was a big tree. Big around and very tall.  The tree had lifted out of the ground and fallen across 2 yards and scraped down the side of my parents house.

My parents have always hated that we park our cars right behind them...they park theirs in the little garage in the back of the house.  I had parked my Tahoe right behind my mom which is the side of the garage right beside the house.  Amelia had parked her Suburban right behind me....

Basically, we love our big, sturdy GM vehicles because they propped that big tree trunk up and prevented it from falling into my parents house.  The Tahoe and Suburban frames did not survive the tree but we did. 
When we saw the hole from where the tree came out of the ground we realized how big that tree was because my Tahoe could have fit in that hole in the ground.  I had some pics but for some reason they won't upload.

We were in and out of the basement 5 times on Wednesday when tragedy struck across our state.  It was one of those days where we never took off our shoes because if something tragic happened we needed to have our feet protected so that we could walk safely. 

I think that this event has been the most hard on my eldest boy.  Rutledge is still exhibiting some stress symptoms from the event.  For example, if I tell him he needs to "hurry", he will ask, "because the tornado will get us Mama?".  He still asks, "why the tornado come Mama?"  I don't know what to tell him...Matt and I decided that we have to keep it real with him and give the most age appropriate answers that we can muster.  We have been telling him that we don't know why the tornado came but that God loves us and that God saved us.  He now will talk about the tornado and what happened to our cars, the tree falling and tell us that God saved us and kept us safe. 

I know this sounds silly but he had a very hard time not being able to see my car under the tree.  You literally couldn't see anything.  Then we were in a rental car for about 2 weeks and he talked about it incessently.  He kept talking about how our car was hit by the tree in the tornado and he didn't like the rental car.  Then, Matt found another Tahoe, exactly the same as my old one, same color and everything, except it was a year older but had 25,000 less miles on it and it had bucket seats instead of a middle bench.  He was confused...he asked, "you got our old car back Mama?"  then, when he climbed into his carseat, he realized that he couldn't hold Gaines' hand and that the backseat was different.  He doesn't like that...he loved holding Gaines' hand in the car.  He still says, "I want our old car Mama". 

Both of our vehicles had over 130,000 miles on them but were running wonderfully and more importantly , they were payment free, with the exception of our mortgage.  For those of you who have experienced this financial know what I am talking about. 

Matt spent 2 weeks looking for a comparable vehicle and couldn't find one.  We had a 2005 Tahoe with 130,000 miles.  It was in great condition and we planned to drive it until it fell apart.  We aren't afraid of fixing things until they can't be fixed anymore.  Since "Cash for Clunkers", there is a shortage of used vehicles, especially SUV's, on the market.  We were going to have to bite the bullet and get something with a newer body style and a big payment because that's literally all that was available.  We were both in a bad mood about it because we didn't want a payment again.  But, had resigned ourselves to it because in the grand scheme of things, we didn't have an actual problem, compared to what everyone else was dealing with. 

Then, Matt was on his way back from Montgomery looking at a customers hotel and he saw a Tahoe on the Collier Ford lot in Wetumpka.  He got back to the bank and called the owner of the Ford lot, who is also a customer, and asked about was a year older and had 25,000 less miles than our old Tahoe, and the same options as before.  And better yet, we could just hand over our insurance check and not have a car payment.  We just wanted an equal transition, to get into something with the same wear and tear as our old car, but we ended up in a better position, with less mileage.  So, we are glad that we are able to stay on track with our financial plan.  Again, all of this sounds so silly when compared to what everyone else has been through.  I just wanted to document it for us.

It could have been so different for us.  My mama kept saying that she had this strange feeling come over her the whole day....that the Lord had brought all of her children and grandchildren together under her roof.  She felt that we were going to experience a tragedy and she was thankful that we were together.  Praise God we were safe.

We are humbled before the Lord that we were spared.  That our families were spared.  We pray daily for the people that have endured unspeakable tragedy. 

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit; give them courage and hope in their troubles, and bring them to the joy of your salvation. 
Lord, in your mercy
       Hear our prayer       
                          From The Book of Common Prayer, The Prayers of the People Form IV

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