Well, I am about 2 weeks after the fact, but hey, better late than never right?
2 weeks ago, I got a much better appreciation of what I had and how much I need to treasure it. I have a home with all of the walls still attached, and a roof over my head to keep me dry. It keeps me warm in the winter; it keeps me cool in the summer. It provides a place for friends and family to gather and enjoy each others company. My house is a mess, but that means that I have been blessed enough to be able to afford toys for my daughter to play with and comfy furniture to sit on.
I have a family. Some of my family is much further away than I would like, but I still have them. I have the ability to talk to them so much more often than families could communicate when far away 30 years ago. Every morning, I get to wake to a hug and kiss as my husband goes to work and then later I get to hear “momma, nap… you mommin” Which translates into mommy, I napped, are you coming”. This is Cailin’s way of telling me that she is up and ready to go for the day. I am always greeted with a hug, a kiss and lately a lick on my cheek as she thinks she is a puppy!
The face that I am overweight, and even now pregnant, tells me that I have plenty of food in the house to keep us healthy.
Why am I going through all of these things that I am so thankful for? Well, on May 10th, the day before Mother’s day, it started like any normal day. We woke and picked up the house and played around together as a family. We had a mascara race on in the background mostly for noise. We noticed on the bottom, there was a tornado warning for our area. Actually, we kind of chuckled because the exact words they used were, “From the national weather service, a tornado warning has been issued for the following counties: Our entire viewing area. This warning will expire at 7:00pm tonight.” Normally they will list ALL of the counties no matter how many there are to list. It was the first time they have shortened it this much. Around 5pm, 2 families came over and we were having a meeting about starting our own soccer league. All was going well. Around 5:45, dinner was ready. Aimee and I were pulling out plates as we noticed the sky was getting darker. By 5:55, it was raining. It was raining hard. Then at 6:00, we heard some loud knocks on the ceiling. It was like baseballs were hitting the roof. We look out the back door onto the deck, and we see exactly that… baseball sized hail coming down. We knew there had been a tornado that touched down in Oklahoma shortly before, so we each grabbed a part of dinner… either a bowl of food, or a handful of dishes and took it down stairs. The kids, all 5 of them, ate in the craft room as that is the safest room in the house. The adults were on the couch right next to the doorway ready to run in if we needed. After 10 or 15 minutes of this, the sky was super bright, and sunny. The rain and then thunking on the roof stopped. While it was storming though, John had the brilliant idea to run outside and grab a piece of the hail to bring inside to show us. By 6:30, we learned that 3 tornados had touched down in the area. One was an EF-3, on was an EF3-4, and the other, I can’t remember. (We learned the ratings later, but we did know that 3 touched down). John, jerry and their families all lived in Neosho. They couldn’t go home via Lime Kiln because the road was closed due to damage. They couldn’t go home via hwy 60 because the road was closed. On HWY 60 near Gramby, there was the remnants of a trailer truck… the cab, and the wheels of the trailer were there, but the rest of the poor trucker’s load was long gone. Lime Kiln had oodles of trees down crossing the road. One of the tornados touched down in Seneca and headed across Iris road. Iris road comes near our house, but we are at least 15 miles from Seneca. There was damage on Iris road from this tornado about 6 miles from our home. It was devastating! There were at least 3-5 houses where all you could see were the cinderblocks that were used for a foundation. They were never more than 2 tall. The rest of the house was gone. It looked as if someone had taken a bulldozer to the houses, but that hadn’t happened yet. It will though. There were trees mangled. There were trees that had huge sheets of metal that used to be trunks of cars, or metal garages, or satellite dishes intertwined in them. There were pieces of clothing everywhere. I didn’t see any of this until Monday. I cried. I cried because I can not imagine how these people are feeling. They just lost EVERYHITNG. Not just their homes and their clothes, but what about pictures. Memories that is irreplaceable. When I had my camcorder stolen, that was the only thought that went through my mind… I had pictures of Cailin when we came home from the hospital that we couldn’t get back. Luckily, that memory card had been swapped earlier that day, so we still had them. These people, the only thing they had left was their family. Some didn’t even have that. In my county alone, there were 13 people that died. One person, a 17 year old girl who I believe was supposed to graduate in a week was home alone when a tree fell through their house. She didn’t survive. I later found this girl was the daughter of a friends’ boss. In a little town you always find a connection to a person. There was a 21 or 22 year old young man who passed away in what I feel is this most honorable way. He was a volunteer firefighter. He DOES NOT get paid for what he does. He was sent to warn people that this tornado was coming. At least 3 or 4 families did not loose a loved one because of this young man. He is engaged to get married. He has a 2 year old daughter and a baby on the way. I cried for his family as well. His fire chief has said he will get full firefighter honors for his acts of braveness.
There was a town just across the Oklahoma border which was completely leveled. This may be a blessing in disguise. Pitcher is a town of only a few hundred people. They government was trying to offer buy-outs and evacuate this old lead mining town for health reasons for the people. The houses are gone. The town is gone. The families will still get whatever insurance $ is due to them, but they will not get the option to rebuild where they currently reside.
Here are some of the pictures that I have of the areas…