Friday, July 15, 2011

After The Storm

I'm so sorry I haven't updated this week.  As many of you will know a massive "Derecho" storm swept across the mid-west USA leaving a trail of destruction in it's wake.  Our little town was very hard hit and we were without power for 5 days.  The clean up has been huge but we're finally getting back to normal.

At 4.17am my infant son woke up crying.  The power had gone out and he was afraid of the dark.  When I woke up I instantly realized that there was some kind of storm approaching. Little did I know.  I woke my husband, he sat up, listened, then yelled "quick, grab the kids and get down to the basement".  I grabbed little T out of his crib just as a massive tree came crashing down onto his room.  Hubby grabbed our 5yo daughter out of bed and we ran down the two flights of stairs into the basement as the house was crashing under the weight of falling trees.  The storm lasted 40mins as we huddled in the basement listening to our beautiful world above being torn apart.
The back of our house with what's left of the children's playset.
Our garage under the big tree. To the right, under this brush in our house.

Our front porch. Over the next few days the weight of the tree collapsed the porch and tore the side off the house
A Derecho storm is an inland hurricane characterized by massive straight line winds.  It's unique and uncommon, and unlike a tornado, is very wide spread. In this case the storm damage spanned over 20 miles wide.  Our small rural town in Iowa was particularly hard hit with barely a tree or out-building left standing.  Many of the houses however remained in tact...somewhat.  
What was most remarkable was the absence of ANY human casualties whatsoever.  This can be credited to the existence of basements and storm cellars in almost every home, and the unique experience these people have in fleeing from the path of tornadoes...even in the middle of the night. 
For me, an Aussie, this kind of storm was unprecedented and nothing prepared me for the terror I felt as I huddled in the basement with my children in my arms waiting for the worst.  The sound was deafening and the fear was even worse.  When we emerged, we were shocked by the destruction around us, but the first thought that came into my head was "it could have been a whole lot worse".  

So now the clean up continues, and during rest stops I managed to sketch some of my thoughts.  I didn't want to fill my pages with destruction, so I sketched what was left of the beautiful big maple that ended up on our house. I also sketched my interpretation of a homeless frog wondering around our torn up yard. It was uncanny in it's calmness and I realized that life in general is so resilient, especially after a natural disaster.

Thanks to everyone who have helped in the cleanup, and thanks for checking in.