It was a sunny and bright Sunday afternoon in early March, 2006. It wasn’t swimsuit weather, but it was outside weather and my husband took advantage of the day to replace a railing on our back deck. An absolutely gorgeous day for early March. Enjoying the day completely until I heard on the TV that the St. Louis area was getting hail the size of softballs along with isolated tornadoes (Why do they feel the need to say isolated? They don’t usually travel in packs?) Anyway, it was absolutely gorgeous at our house, but I know the directions that storms travel and we were next on the list. So I started preparing for a storm. I took the two outside dogs and unchained them from their trees and took (dragged) them into the garage along with our older dog, Simone. They really, really didn’t want to go in there. (We didn’t have Coco then). My husband was putting railing on our deck and told me that I was nuts, we weren’t going to get hit. I was always afraid of storms, hated them, didn’t want to be in a tornado, ever. WELL, the storm started at about 8:30 p.m. I had taken the kids downstairs at about 9:00 p.m. because something in my gut told me not to listen to my husband. We were watching the rotating circles on the TV news grow closer to our house.
My husband is fascinated by storms and likes to watch them. So he was on the deck watching the storm roll through, even though it was 9:30 p.m. and pitch dark. Well, he had noticed he didn’t see any head lights on the road a few miles away. Intrigued, he continued watching when a flash of lightening cracked the ground and he saw the blockage – a HUGE TORNADO on the ground. Then, he slammed the sliding door shut and I heard heavy, running footsteps. At this point, I directed the kids to the bathroom to take cover. I had pillows and thick blankets in there and we had the kids get into the tub and cover up, we also got under the blankets.
It was quite the experience, I will never forget it. We sat there and we heard the wind blowing, hail and then a large thud on the roof, followed by another thud. My daughter was also afraid of storms. In fact, when they were younger, she would yell, “I’m scared!!” when it would start storming, so when my son started to talk he would call the storm an “ascared” because that is what he heard her yell. When the winds started churning, it was loud. My daughter asked if that was thunder, I completely lied – and said, yes. I knew she would be really scared and feared she would completely freak out on us and I was already freaked enough and knew we would both be freaking if that happened. Acting strong and fearless is hard work, but a mom has to do what a mom has to do. I know it was really a short stent, but it seemed like forever. When it had been quiet for several minutes, we ventured out of the bathroom. The first thing was that we were thankful that we were all safe. I then noticed a trail of water running down the wall in the hallway out side of the bathroom. It appeared to be coming from upstairs. I did not feel that this was going to be good. I expected to see the sky through our newly made convertible house.
We took some deep cleansing breaths and ran upstairs to see what part of our house was still standing. First thing, we checked on the dogs in the garage. They were a little spooked to say the least, all curled up in a corner on bean bag chairs. Everything else we saw seemed OK, but we heard running water. Then we arrived at the master bedroom. Water was pouring from the ceiling fan, so much that it bent the blades and was falling right onto our bed. Our mattress was the most uncomfortable thing at less than 2 years old, but was a dud of a mattress, we hated it. So, I turned to my husband and I said, “Well, I know that this is really going to break your heart, but it looks like we will need to get a new mattress.” Actually, it was kind of a pretty fountain, if it was not in our bedroom. We went into the living room and called the insurance company to report the claim and then went outside. While we were waiting to finish the claim, we heard a crash and from the master bedroom a bunch of little yellow puff balls came rushing out. My daughter asked what that was and we went and looked, it was insulation. The saturated drywall had given out and crashed to the bed. This was soon followed by the rest of the ceiling. So, we then went to the garage, as that ceiling was wet as well. Just as my husband opened the door, he quickly had to close it. The mess only landed on my car, which was the opposite side of the garage that the dogs were hibernating in. (Luckily we were able to remove and there was no damage to the car, besides a few minor scrapes that buffed out.)
Now, to go outside – we had to get away from the sea of insulation. I immediately noticed that the dog houses were gone from Beau and Daisy’s circle. This would have been the first and second thud that we heard hit the roof. One dog house was relocated from the front yard to the back yard, stopped by a big pine tree. The other was no where to be found. At this point, I was glad for my defiance and not listening to my husband tell me I was over reacting. The yard was polka dotted with shingles from the roof, stuck in the ground like little tombstones and others leaving a trail out of the yard and into the field across the street. The trail of shingles went for a long ways in the field. And there were a few in the siding on the side of the house as well.
The roof, or lack there of, would have been the root cause of the water leakage. It was quite interesting that the two satellite dishes (a necessity when you live in the boon docks) were completely untouched, but the shingles and tar paper removed.
On the north side of the house our kids’ trampoline was placed in front of the pool. I found that the tornado had apparently slammed the trampoline into the front of the pool, flipping it upside down and landing in a tree. The insurance adjuster asked my husband, “Do you normally keep your trampoline in the tree, or was that a result of the storm?” My husband told him we found that it prevented injuries if the kids couldn’t jump on it. ha ha.
All in all, besides dealing with the insurance on replacement value, tarping the roof, then replacing the roof two weeks after the insurance adjuster finally came, having the drywall all replaced that put us in a hotel for 2 weeks… two long, long weeks. (Replaced were the: master bedroom, bedroom below the master in the basement, living room, dining, kitchen and garage ceilings) and the miscellanous other items that needed to be replaced – I think that we all came out of the situation as more cautious on tornadoes and not as afraid as we were. Still afraid, but not nearly as bad – we have lived through one. I hope we never have go through another. It took several years before the dogs recovered, for a while I thought I was going to have to take them to the doggie shrink for anti-depressants/anti-anxiety medication. I will say that from there on out, when I would come and get the dogs to bring them inside, the were very obedient in following along and not fighting. Our older dog, Simone, would hide under a Little Tykes work bench when it would storm – afraid she was going to have the drywall cave in on her again. I myself have learned to rely on the weather radar, storm spotters on the scanner, and my intuition on taking cover. My intuition served us well in that instance.
I felt blessed because I know we could have lost our entire house and contents, one of our dogs, or worse yet, one or more of us. It is times like that when you really realize what is important in life – the things you can not replace – like your family and your doggies. ♥
Bad times will happen in your life, they sometimes can not be avoided. (Even though the insurance sent a letter to ask my agent how to prevent a future claim like that one…. live in a camper and move away from the storm each time? Build a bubble around my house?) They are going to be a part of life, but you don’t have to make them your entire life. Learn from them and grow into a more diversified individual. Focusing on the negative or the “what could have been” doesn’t let you move forward. You have to deal with the problems, put them behind you, and move forward. A positive attitude/outlook is contagious, so is a negative one… Which one do you want to spread? I can guarantee that the more you spread a positive one, the better your life will become. Surround yourself with more positive people, see the good and embrace it.