Last week a horrific thunderstorm tore through the Eastern states. Millions were left without power, and trees were down everywhere. Our little town experienced some power outages and branches could be seen from the streets, but it didn't seem to be too bad - until I drove to my parents' house. Suddenly, even a few days later, there were work crews out sawing up trees, barns crushed under trees, and branches everywhere.
Being rather shocked at the damage, I was visiting with family at a Sunday School pool party when my dad came walked toward me. I was helping the kids get situated with their dinner as he handed me his phone and said, "It's your husband."
Wondering what was so important that he called my dad to reach me - we'd been having cell phone issues all day - my husband blurted out, "We had a mini tornado."
He went on to describe the extreme high winds, golf-ball sized hail, and damage our property had experienced during this short, strange storm:
- huge tree limbs that fell from several stories up
- a rain gutter pulled off the house
- a power line downed in the driveway
- a tree in the front yard, split, leaning on power lines
- the compost bin shattered under a limb
- loss of power
I couldn't imagine this kind of damage in our yard, but I was certainly seeing it everywhere else.
My husband headed out to the yard the next evening after work to begin cleanup efforts. The kids and I spent a few more days with my parents and then returned home. When we did, despite two nights' of hauling away leaves and branches, I found a backyard that I couldn't walk through. I'd never seen anything like it. Suddenly I had to climb through my own backyard - the place where the kids usually were running and playing.
Sideways view of the middle yard
Back of the playset and house
The far reaches of the backyard and shed
The back of the house
The playset area from the front
I first tried to climb through the yard at night. I had to give up and try again the next morning, which is when I took these pictures. After climbing around and around, I ended up completely amazed, for several reasons:
- The kiddie wading pool blew into the front yard before the limbs came down. A large one landed right where it had been placed.
- A huge limb came down and shattered the compost bin - but didn't even scratch the shed less than a foot away.
- Big branches were leaning on the playset and pushing the swings out, as if trying to go for a ride, but nothing was damaged.
- A limb - rather log-like in appearance to me - came from a height of three or four stories up and knocked off our back gutters - but appears to have done no other damage to the house.
- That big limb that destroyed the gutters? It landed in the yard on the other side of the fence. It didn't touch the fence.
- The fence was hemmed in with big branches on both sides but didn't have a single bend - at least, not one that wasn't already there. :-)
- The flowers and bushes that my husband and I had planted less than 36 hours before were completely intact and branch-free.
- The new deck, with its towering tree shading it, was leaf-covered but weathered the storm without a hitch.
- The power company came within 12 hours and repaired the lines and cut down the damaged part of the tree. They told us it could be a long time before they'd make it by.
- Nobody was home when this storm hit.
- With the exception of a few missing shingles across the street, we seem to have the worst damage - and nobody was hurt in this storm.
While grateful for the lack of permanent damage and amazed at how God saved our house, we were still rather discouraged. Having just spent our annual kid-free week working in the yard, it was hard to see this big, new mess created - even if it wasn't permanent. Our Big Helper even wondered if it would be possible to have it all cleaned up by her next scheduled book club two weeks later.
Enter: awesome friends and neighbors. Our two neighbor boys showed up one morning with their four-wheeler and a rope. They began to lasso logs and haul them away. My husband broke out the chain saw and chopped the limbs up into manageable sections, and the boys spent a good chunk of their Fourth cleaning up our yard.
With the biggest stuff out of the way, I figured we'd be raking for just ever, when a friend showed up with a rake. We filled up the kiddie wading pool - the one that was saved! - and let our kids have at it while we earned blisters. Nearly three hours later, there were piles of branches and lots of clean yard.
Now, only nine days since the storm, we're about back to normal. We still have to get the gutters fixed and there are a few branches remaining, but the vast majority of the storm damage has disappeared.
Who would've thought there could be blessings found in a tiny twister?
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