There are many trees on houses and some houses are just gone. There are church buildings that were demolished. Businesses were destroyed. There are blocks in town where there is just nothing. Power was out at our house for 5 days, and many in our county are still without power. The National Guard is here and a curfew was imposed to stop looting. It's been unreal.
As we drove around town yesterday, I was shocked at the level of devastation that the tornadoes left behind. The pictures you see online are bad, but honestly, the pictures really do not do it justice. I saw the same buildings up close. Believe it or not, the real life damage is so much more intense than what the pictures show. I kept asking my husband, "How did anyone live through that?" and saying things like "I hope they were not home when that hit." The historic district of our town is demolished. It is crazy to think that buildings that have been standing for more than a hundred years were wiped out in a matter of minutes by this powerful storm. Pictures also do not show the extent of the damage. Only a few houses are shown in pictures, but in reality, there are hundreds that were damaged and many are damaged beyond repair. I have always loved the historic district and when we moved to this town I was wishing we could have found a house in that area to live in. I can't even think about what might have happened to us if we had moved there.
This huge tree was uprooted and fell across a police car driving down the highway
in front of our church's building.
This week has made me think a lot. I don't deal well with change and I must admit I was thrown off by all the craziness of not having power for several days. Because nothing in the county had power, you had to travel 25-30 miles just to find hot food or a cold drink. I didn't like packing up all the dirty laundry to wash it at my in-law's house 50 minutes away. I love traveling, but I plan those trips for weeks before we leave. So throwing everything haphazardly into the van and heading out is just not my style. I know I'm spoiled, I really do. I appreciate and love my washer and dryer and hot water and Internet access and all the other modern conveniences we sometimes take for granted. But as we drove through town yesterday and I saw all of the devastation, I realized that I'm beyond spoiled. At least I had clothes to pack up, even if they were dirty. Some houses were so destroyed that I don't think they'll even be able to find their clothes in the rubble heaps that were left behind. And forget the clothes- what about pictures of their family? Important documents like birth certificates? So many people are going to have to start over.
And finally, I still have my husband and my kids. My mother-in-law works at Children's Hospital and told us some very sad stories after she finished her shift Thursday evening. There were two toddlers brought in that day. Both were found, alone. One lived and was later claimed by a family member. The little girl had been staying with her grandmother, who was keeping her while her mom was in the hospital giving birth to another child. The tornado came and the grandmother got in the bathtub with the toddler and covered her with her body. But the tornado's pull was so strong that the little girl was literally sucked out of her grandmother's arms and dropped blocks away where she was found and taken to the hospital. The poor child is almost catatonic because she's so traumatized. I can't imagine how confused and terrified she must have been. The other little girl died...and hadn't been claimed. My mother-in-law said that means her family is probably hospitalized or hurt as well. Such sad stories.
It's all so very heartbreaking and I'm so very sad for the people who lost loved ones or their homes or businesses when the tornadoes came. And I'm so incredibly grateful that the tornadoes left our house still standing and our family safe.