I have had one of the worst mornings in my life. A morning like this will definitely put everything in perspective. It will make you realize exactly how lucky you truly are.
My little hometown might be making national news. And not in a good way.
To start from the beginning….
At 4:22am this morning my husband’s cell phone rang. You always dread those phone calls. They can never be good. His dad was at work and was saying that there were tornadoes coming our way. I was pissed, we had no rain, no lightening, no wind. Nothing. It was silent. I even posted on my Facebook page that 4am phone calls were for family emergencies only and that I was not afraid of storms. Boy do I feel stupid now.
At 5:11am a co-worker called me. He said that there were reports of some really bad weather in Harrisburg (Illinois, not Pennsylvania) and that I might want to re-think coming up for work. By this point I’m still irritated that I’ve been woken up so early.
Approximately 5:17am, Nathan’s dad calls back and said that there were reports of the south side of Harrisburg being demolished by a tornado. I might want to try to get into contact with my family.
That woke me up. I was still pissed, but my in-laws have a bad habit of crying wolf when it comes to storms. They freak out. I’m the opposite, I’m standing outside looking up at the sky (sometimes a pretty dumbass move).
By this time the storm sirens were going off in our town. So I figured I should at least get dressed, just in case something did happen. Then I tried to call my parents. Straight to voicemail. Then my grandma, straight to voicemail. My other grandparents, they have no cell phones and I wasn’t surprised that there would be no power, so no answer.
I bring up my Facebook app on my iPhone and see a friend from high school has posted that the police scanner is saying that there is severe damage out by the hospital. That is where my family lives. Panic mode begins.
I don’t even know how many phone calls I made trying my hardest to get through. I’m not stupid, I knew cell phone service in that town would be a disaster. But I couldn’t think of anything else to do. I felt so hopeless. It was a terrible feeling.
All I could think of was that I had to have my family still with me. I want my son to know their grandparents and great-grandparents. It was a terrible feeling.
Finally I saw exactly what I wanted: “DAD” came up on my caller i.d. I think I breathed for the first time in at least 35 minutes. My parents, their two dogs, my grandmother were all fine. Their homes were severely damaged. Structurally they are okay, but the insides are a mess because their windows blew out. Dad’s vehicle had some serious damage. But he had no idea about my other grandparents. It would be another 40 minutes before I would hear that they were okay physically, but that their house was also severely damaged.
It definitely puts everything in perspective. I felt my whole world crumbling. I didn’t want to lose my entire family in one swoop. That would have been the worst thing ever.
We were supposed to go to St. Louis tomorrow – that trip is cancelled. My baby shower was supposed to be at my grandmother’s house at the end of March – that is not happening.
Obviously it will be a few days before the weather service announces any concrete information about the tornado. And it was definitely a tornado. How severe, I have no clue. Will it make the national news? I have no idea about that either. Are there any confirmed deaths? Not yet, but there are some unsubstantiated accounts of at least 3 dead so far. That one section of my hometown looks like a war zone. Obviously I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of pictures and accounts like this before, but it’s never been my hometown. And this time it is. And it’s heartbreaking.
But you know what can’t be changed or replaced or fixed? Family. And I still have mine. And that’s all that matters right now.
For the pictures:
PICTURE ONE: Damage around the south side of my hometown
PICTURE TWO: This is what is left of a strip mall
PICTURE THREE: That is all that is left of the building that was my old church. The church itself had been closed for about a year after being closed down by the Lutheran Senate due to lack of parishioners.
PICTURE FOUR: More damage
PICTURE FIVE: My parents house. I don’t know if you can tell but one of my dad’s back windows in his vehicle is busted out. There are a lot of shingles off their roof. The fence to the left side of the picture is demolished and I can tell when I blow it up that the fence in their backyard is destroyed.