“Darcy, We’re Not In Kansas – Yet” – or The Tornado Trip

Well, those of you have been following me should know enough about my past to know there is damage.  The fire of 2014 was the worst.  July 29, 2018, comes in a pretty close second – F2 Tornado.

The whole trip was wicked.  We have a huge living room window that I judge when it is time to put the chickens in by.  As it starts turning darker out, I know it’s time for me to move.  Well, at 4:30 p.m. I got up and my phone weather warning alarm went off (I remember cuz I jumped – it vibrates and rings a nasty sound – I made it that way), stating that it was a tornado “warning.”  Those of you that do not know, a “watch” means conditions are right, a “warning” means the suckers on the ground.

As I went to my car (I use my car to close things up at night because I do not trust my new knees yet – tripped and fell too many times and it really hurts), the south side windows showed a clear sky.  Got into my car and rounded the house going north and my stomach turned.  That darn woman’s intuition kicked in HUGE.  I quickly closed up everything and glanced over the chicken barn and freaked out – something massive was coming.

My first thought was another wicked dust storm like we got back in April of this year.  But my intuition would not back down.  I got back up to the house and found my sister stretched out on the couch watching movies like no big deal.  I yelled at her to get downstairs NOW!

Instinct kicked in again – turned everything off, had my phone, grabbed my tablet, thought about my laptop but last minute decided no (great time to not listen to myself – idiot!!).  Let the dogs in and grabbed the cat and we all went down to the downstairs living room – north end of the house.  I closed all the doors in case of windows breaking (there is only one small one in that living room area).  Note: My bedroom door opens to this downstairs living room.  All other doors are in the hallway.

I sat in my fav crafting chair while my sister and grandson snuggled on the couch.  Dogs wouldn’t lie still, and the cat was hiding.  I pulled up the weather radar on my phone and watched the ugly colors flow across the screen, and the stuff outside the window flew.  I distinctly remember my bedroom door rattling – THE WINDOWS WERE ALL CLOSED IN THE HOUSE – this was tornado pressure.  Our ears were popping and plugging like we were going up in a jet.

I think initially, part of me just thought (or maybe hoped) this was some more of our severe winds.  I was not scared – which is weird.  At about 4:45 the power went off.  Around 5:00pm-ish I called our insurance company and told them we were in a tornado and would most likely have damages (after the fire, I learned that Insurance should be the first one a person calls when you own stuff that is insured).  By 5:30 pm we were sneaking back upstairs to check.  The majority of the storm was past, still, some strong winds going on, but the sun was showing.  The first thing I spotted was this:

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The window was blown in, glass and heavy water everywhere. You can see my tablet with the mess on top – and yes, it’s shot! (I cried – silly me lives for writing, and I had some great stories on it.  Hope I can have my friend save the hard drive as he did after the fire?)  My grandsons mini-tablet was thrown off his stand (on the right) and was sitting soaked in his chair.

Then I went to check the office, but the door was jammed.  It took us a bit, but we finally got it open to this:

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We could definitely tell which way the wind blew.  This is our office/sewing room and I also use it to keep track of my yarn goods for sales.  They ended up trashed as well.  Not just soaked, but bits of glass shards embedded in them.  Then I cried again – all that time and effort shot in less than one hour.

The next thing I did was go outside to check the damage.  This was the most noticeable in the front yard:

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It is/was our gazebo.  In the pic, it is facing southeast.  It is supposed to be facing west toward the house.  The twister (appropriately named) picked it up, turned it, then set it down on top of the fence (looks like the vinyl fence is going in the door )..but it left the fence post intact – go figure?

Then the north end of the house:

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This really shows how freaky (or picky?) a tornado can be…both the living room window (to the left) and the office window (right) are blown in/out – but the door window is just beautiful?  The door itself is metal and has massive dings from the large hail, but the glass is untouched – how?  Even the porch light (little black one by the door) had its glass busted on a couple sides – but the door window is ok??

My grandson’s trampoline was the next thing that caught my eye.  Because we have such awful winds, we had it not just staked in the ground in several places but tied to both the tree and the fence.  The weird part on this is that the rope on the tree snapped, but the sucker is still hanging on to the fence.  The fence was not even cemented in?

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The cage is shot – too many busted screen poles, but the tramp itself looks ok.  It did smash into the house above my bedroom window and left a mark – but that was all it did to the house.  I expected a lot worse – guess all the stakes and ropes helped.  If you look close in the center of the picture, you can see the far pole is actually shoved over halfway into the ground.  We tried to pull it out but can’t…gonna have to use a jack.

The big barn had a massive piece of its sheet metal roofing flapping in the breeze, and several pieces of roofing in the back are gone.  Same with the big gray shed.  Our chicken barn roof is gone.  Then there is our greenhouse:

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If I didn’t know better, I would think we were constructing it (my  Helbergfarmstories blog was started because of this.).

You may be wondering what all this has to do with life lessons lived – it’s about finding the humor when there appears to be none.

The first thing my sister said to me was “we’re not in Kansas Dorothy.” And we both bust out laughing.

  • The three of us survived.
  • The critters are all good.
  • The gardens are shot, but the majority of the house is intact.
  • We have full coverage on the house and our possessions.
  • We don’t have insurance on the outbuildings (never got to it.) but we can fix those.
  • Tried to get coverage on the greenhouse, but no takers since “the weather we get out here is too much of a risk to cover it.”  Funny, I always thought that was what you paid insurance for – risky situations?!?

We have seen some of our neighbors and their homes/properties have been devastated by this twister.  All-in-all we did not get it as bad as some of our friends, but we have a fantastic little community here, and we all pull together!  The biggest reason for us to keep pushing forward.

Yes, I had a good cry when I first sat and thought about it (so did my sis and she NEVER cries).  Then I pulled up my big girl panties and got things done.  The barn front and large gray shed are done.  The part of the chicken barn that is over the chickens (other ½ used to cover goats) is covered and they, with the kitties, are all dry and safe.

The greenhouse is what it is.  We cannot afford a new roof right now, and the base 2″x12’x12′ boards have to be reinstalled first.  So, for now, we are going to use it as is   :

  • The far end with the swamp cooler wall managed to save the north end crops – zucchini, strawberries, small tomatoes and some hot peppers – oh and the melons (and they are in the middle of the area – have no clue how they were saved?).
  • I also pulled back some plastic on the west side and found my eggplant and pickle vines were all ok. A bit beat up (smashed) but still good.
  • My grandson’s flowers are next to my Rosemary bush, and both got nailed by the scaffolding (from trying to repair before), but they are good.  So is the Basil next to them…but the rest of the row is trash.  Our big heirloom tomatoes took a beating as well as the other sweet and hot peppers.  BUT as of this morning (8-9-18), I see sparks of life.  Some of the main stalks/vines are showing new leaves.  Now we just need to set up row covers and heaters to keep them going long enough to produce.

The best news after all this mess is that I am a new grandma – sort of.  A couple of chickens that have been setting for the last month are now proud moms.  I love how they puff out to cover the babies.

Well, once again, life goes on.  You can either let it eat you up, or you can bite back.  I choose to bite back!  Hope you do the same.

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