Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

July 28, 2011

Stuck in a Whirlwind

I’ve had better weeks.  I try not to use this blog space to complain, but please forgive me as I vent a bit about what happened to me over the past few days.

On Monday, the dreadful heatwave that had plagued most of the country had finally broken in this area, so I decided it was time to finally get out and mow the lawn.  I was trying to get it done quickly as it appeared that rain was eminent.  I was nearly finished when zap,zap,zap, OUCH!!!!  I had run over a yellow jackets’ nest in the ground and gotten stung several times in my hand and elbow.  I ran, swearing like sailor, into to the house to run them under cold water and make up the paste of baking soda and water to salve the stings.  To add to my indignity, upon sitting down to catch my breath for a moment, I discovered one yellow jacket had made the trip inside with me…in my shorts!  I was stung an additional three times you-know-where!

Tuesday dawns bright and sunny, comfortable temperatures.  Just a few errands in the plans for the day: Sarah having a friend over for a sleepover, getting my haircut, driving Meghan to and from the library where she was volunteering to help with a children’s art project.  It was the first time I had seen my hairdresser since the tornado on June 1st, so we were chatting about where we were and what happened.  Sadly her house sustained some damage.  We commented on what a nice pleasant day we were having that day.  I left the hairdresser’s and drove to the library to pick up Meghan.  I browsed books while Meghan finished up and noticed the darkening skies.  I hadn’t heard any thunderstorm warnings that day, but I had been busy puttering and cleaning and going about my business.  A huge clap of thunder rumbled outside and I could hear the screams of a few shocked children.  Meghan came out of the room where she had been working and I remarked we should try to get home before the storm opens up.  We live about 5 minutes from the town library, so I thought no problem.  It was gently sprinkling as we walked out to my car.

As I turned off Main St. to Springfield St, the skies opened up.  Torrential downpours and marble sized hail pelted my car.  Visibility quickly reduced to virtually nothing.  I saw blurry tail lights of the cars in front of me, and then nothing but a gray sheet of water across my windshield as traffic came to a standstill.  At that moment, a tree fell directly in front of my car, grazing the hood and grill as it went down, and another fell directly behind my car, tapping the bumper.  We were trapped.

I started trying to make phone calls.  Tried my husband first.  Couldn’t get through right away.  I tried 911; nobody answered.  I called directory assistance to get my local police department’s alternate number.  They told me to stay put in my car, they were getting dozens of calls and would do their best to get to us.  Hubby got through, told him what had happened, but by that time there was no way for him to get to us.  We were stuck in a triangle of streets that had all been blocked by trees and downed telephone poles in a matter of minutes.

And so we sat in the car and waited, not knowing what to do.  Were there downed wires? Was it safe to get out of the car?  Were more trees going to fall? Was it safe to stay in the car?  I opened my car door several times trying to  look around in the driving rain to determine what the dangers might be but I couldn’t make a decision.

When the rain finally let up somewhat, another trapped motorist stopped to check on us.  He told me there was another tree dangling perilously close to the roof of my car and that we’d better get out.

This is what my car looked like when we got out:

It was still drizzling at the time, and another family invited us to sit in their car with them while we waited for the firemen to try to get to our area.  I thanked them and sat for a while, now soaked to the skin.  Feeling restless, I got out of the car and walked around a bit, wondering exactly what our situation was.  Other people were out doing the same.  There were about half a dozen cars trapped in the same general area with us.  Finally, we heard the chainsaws of the fire department on one side of the fallen trees.  Four firemen came through to check on people and assess damage.

They confirmed what I suspected.  We were really stuck.  There was no where for the cars to go.  Trees had fallen in all three possible directions of travel (for any locals who could be reading this, I was stuck on Springfield Street at the intersection of Faculty St.).  I’d been in contact with my husband who had been offering to drive as far as he could and then hike to trade places with me, so that he would wait with the car and I could take his truck home.  I didn’t like the idea not knowing what the situation was like beyond my immediate area, fearing he would end up stuck somewhere and leave my younger daughter and her friend home completely alone.

After we’d be stuck waiting for over 2 1/2 hours trying figure out if a way would be cleared that evening, I made a decision after talking to a fireman.  I asked if it was possible to get to our town hall on foot, which I knew was only a few hundred yards away, and according to my husband the road was clear at that point.  The fireman said yes, as long as you were careful to walk on the edge of people’s yards and stay away from downed wires.  I called my husband and asked him to pick us up at town hall and Meghan and I made a wary trek under and around fallen trees and telephone poles.  My poor car was abandoned for the night.

After trying multiple times to get back to my car the next day, we finally made it back and hubby tried to assess the damage.  The grill was cracked and the radiator appeared punctured.  The car started but the temperature soared quickly as I drove it to our local autobody, where it now sits awaiting an insurance adjuster.

Meghan and I are fine.  Maybe a bit shaken up, but no damage to us!  I wish I could say the same for my garden.  The driving hail made the garden appear as though someone attacked it with a machine gun:


Some of the veggies are even scarred:


My geranium which recently looked like this:

now looks like this:

My yard is loaded with fallen branches, hail-shredded leaves and a lawn flattened by the small lake that passed through, but with the exception of my car, we sustained no damage.  Meghan and I are feeling very lucky and thankful considering how close to being hurt we really came.

Rumors of another tornado hitting this area are unconfirmed; funnel clouds were reported but official weather-type people are yet to determine if there was touchdown.  Strong thunderstorms with hail and 50 mph winds were confirmed.  I don’t know what the whirlwind I was stuck in the middle of was actually called; it doesn’t really matter, it was scary as hell!

Power was out again for about 30 hours.  It happily came back on last night.  I will be dealing with the task of figuring out which food in the fridge is still good and what has gone bad.

As I said, I’ve had better weeks.  I’m hoping it is going to get better soon.  This weekend I will be attending Big Summer Potluck 2011.  It is an east coast food blogger event, for which I am tagging along with my sister.  We are leaving tomorrow morning, so this will likely be my last blog post until Sunday evening at the earliest.  I hope your week was better than mine and that a wonderful weekend is on tap for us all!  (Thanks for letting me vent!)