Friday, May 15, 2009

I survived the "Inland Hurricaine" of '09

I have already emailed and spoken to some of you, but I'm finally together enough to post about last Friday's event.

At around 1:30 pm the tornado siren went off and I grabbed pillows, my emergency kit, and a sweatshirt and headed for my "safe spot" at the end of the hallway. There is a sort of cul de sac where no windows are nearby, if the two bedroom doors are closed off. Madison (my Golden Retriever) and I hunkered down, covering our heads with pillows, and turned on the battery operated storm radio. When I heard the phrase "80 mph winds with gusts to 100" I knew we were in for it. I kept murmuring to Madison, "We'll be OK, we'll be OK", and I figured we would be--until there was a huge crash close by and the house shook. At that point I decided maybe we wouldn't be OK after all, but I just held onto him--it's all I could do. There were several more crashes, and the house shook with each one. I was totally terrified. At one point there was a brief lull in the wind and I stood up, opened the door to the room where I thought the first crash came from, and saw this:

and this....

and this....

and this....

...which used to be a vertical blind on the window above it.

The wind picked up again and I shut the door and sat back down, gathered the pillows and the dog around me, and just sat there, sort of numb. There were several more crashes and some more shaking, but after a total of 45 minutes it got very quiet.

I threw on the sweatshirt and sturdier shoes, and ventured out my front door. All my neighbors were coming out of their homes as well, and little knots of people formed to discuss what had just happened. One neighbor advised, "Take pictures now if you've got a camera handy", so I did.

This portion of a maple tree landed across the fence and gate, taking out the gate and one section of fence. Fortunately the fence is still functional so Madison can't get out of the yard.

Another piece of the tree that hit the fence, but this one landed smack in the middle of the back yard, missing the house, the shed, the birdbath, lawn furniture, bird feeders, and planters--thank goodness.

This is the back of my house, and the tree that came through the roof. I'm lucky it didn't also take out a couple of windows, but just one screen was damaged.

Closer view of the back of the house. Both pine and maple trees tried to get in--only the pine tree was succesful!

Don't know how well you can see it in this picture, but there was a huge limb of this pine tree just dangling by the bark. Fortunately I was able to have it taken down before the next storm came on Tuesday night.

There were hundreds of downed power and phone lines throughout the area. This one is in front of my house. Directly in the center of this picture you will see a tree downed on a van and house. That house is a home for high level developmentally disabled adults, and I expect they were frightened out of their wits when that thing came down on ths house. No one was hurt. In fact, thoughout our area, there was only one fatality, and only a few relatively minior injuries. The same storm system is blamed for three deaths in Missouri, however. I'm sure the early warning of our tornado siren saved many lives.
The rain held off until Tuesday night, but the temporary roof patches didn't hold. A lot of water came into the spare bedrrom, and I lost the mattress and some other items from that room. Also, a couple of light fixtures , one in the hall and one in the diningroom, shorted out due to the water. Could have been worse.
While this storm was technically a tornado or series of tornadoes, it has been referred to in the media as "an inland hurricaine" because it had many similarities to a hurricaine. The sustained high winds--the peak was logged at 106 mph--the duration of the storm, and the wide area affected are all more characteristic of hurricaines than tornadoes. Whatever you call it, it was a devastating storm, the worst I've experienced in my lifetime of living in Southern Illinois, which is part of the midwest's "tornado alley". Seven counties in Southern Illinois have been declared disaster areas, and the cleanup and repairs are estimated to take as long as 6 months. The power and phones are back up in most of the area, but this was the longest--5 days--I've ever been without power and phones. Yay for cell phones and inverter chargers. I will probably blog some more about this tomorrow, but I want to get this post up now.


Ang said...

thinking of you and miss you but so glad you are safe and secure.

Claudia said...

OMG, Vennie! I guess inland hurricanes are just as bad as our coastal hurricanes. Hurricane Wilma kicked my ass. Scary, huh? I am so glad that you and your furry friends area all safe and sound.

Love ya,

hot tamale said...

Im so thankful you are safe and for the network of friends who let us know you were.
Time to pack up and move out to earthquake territory