Family, Food, and Severe Weather

There is nothing like a little heavy rain, strong wind and hail mixed with the threat of tornadoes to create excitement. It's better than a roller coaster. It feels a little frightening but in the safety of a home is exhilarating. There is something about the dark foreboding skies, the sound of the hail, the smell of freshly snapped cedar and pine trees (as long as they aren't on the house!), the pouring rain hitting the windows, the strong winds and loss of electricity that gets the adrenaline pumping.

This is what we experienced last Saturday while grilling out at my parents house nestled in the woods, surrounded by vulnerable trees. We (well, my dad) were grilling steaks as a thanks to my Aunt Tracy for keeping Wil and Timothy the previous weekend while James, Luke and I went to Gainesville to spend time with friends and attend a wedding. A bonus was that James was invited to preach at our old church. It was a special weekend for us and we enjoyed it thoroughly knowing our little guys were in such good hands with my aunt and my mom. Sorry, I'm digressing. Back to the storm.

As the steaks were grilling the storm came in and intensified quickly. We watched the weather alerts as long as we could before the electricity went out and then we were in the dark. If we hadn't had daylights savings time already it would have really been dark. But being in the home of he most prepared man on the eastern seaboard we were not worried and had radios o'plenty to keep us informed. We discussed the best place to go should a tornado form and we waited the storm out. Once the worst of it was over my dad went back to the grill and we pulled out the rest of the meal which had already been prepared. It was delish! We finished with my aunt's from scratch chocolate peanut butter cake. Also delish. We aren't sure if it was the cake or the bizarre weather that got Wil going but he quickly became the after dinner entertainment.
If there was audio with this picture you would hear Wil laughing deep from his gut. He couldn't stop, so for nearly 45 minutes he laughed. He laughed at us, he laughed at himself, he laughed at the toys, you name it. Timothy got silly too and had to resort back to crawling to escape Aunt Tracy. Luke and Gavin, after being told not to play in the swamp of a back yard as we were packing up to go, were caught playing in the swamp of a back yard. And then they did this. . .

I'm not sure if they were running to come apologize for such blatant disobedience or if they were just running away in hopes that somehow they could convince us that they weren't in the mud at all. And Luke can be very convincing even when he has been caught at something red handed!

So we head home with full bellies, ready to put the boys to bed and settle in for the night. The storm seems to have passed and apart from lots of natural debris and downed trees it wasn't so bad. Then we get to our neighborhood. As I pulled onto the street that runs perpendicular to ours I felt disoriented. There were people out roaming the neighborhood (it is pretty dark by now) and there was debris everywhere. Not just natural debris but insulation, siding, shingles, glass, trash cans and trash strewn everywhere. Men were running chainsaws through trees so we could get to our street. We drove slowly, trying to take everything in. The first thing that struck me was one of the stop signs in our neighborhood, snapped in two with a big concrete ball attached to the base. A big hole in the sidewalk nearby where it seemed to have been lifted straight up. Then we saw this. One of our neighbors, who had their house on the market.

The front of their house could be found all over the street.

Our back door neighbor lost pieces of his home as well.

And there are many more homes like his. The other bizarre thing to us was that many garage doors were crumpled and pulled in. And those homes that have crawl space experienced buckling in their hardwood floors. Evidently this is from the vacuum effect of a tornado. A number of our neighbors saw the funnel forming and bounce around the neighborhood but most told us they were sitting in an interior closet for the 5-10 minutes that it passed through and only heard it. No one in our neighborhood was hurt, just shaken. A couple of people told me that from the sound of things they fully expected to walk out of their closet into the outdoors. So, clearly it could have been a lot worse. We are fortunate not to have any damage to our home, just our yard.

And our fence. So, instead of coming home and settling in we joined those roaming the streets, met some more neighbors and heard their stories. One guy ran out to try and pull his car in the garage when a house window came hurling his way and hit his car. While he was reeling from this some random person in their car came screaming into his garage trying to get out of harms way. He said the man, whom he had never met before, just sat shaking in his car. What a way to meet your neighbor. You can't help but laugh at that imagery. Sunday was spent with the hum of chainsaws in the air and today the cleanup continues.

So while I like a good storm, this turned out to be a bit much. And we thought we left severe weather behind in Florida.


Tom said...

I remember those amazing storms we went through when we lived in WPB, Fl. So glad no one was hurt, and that your house survived relatively unscathed. Those are quite the pictures.

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