Photo Friday: the aftermath

Here in farm country the roads are few and some travel the same paths they have since the early 1800s.  Granted some new ones have been added, but not too many.  Hence, no matter which road you travel you will inevitably run into tornado damage.

We try to avoid it, to not become a hindrance to the efforts to clean up and get on with life, but it is impossible, you see it everywhere.  We are being told to avoid the worst hit places and we do.  Though many do not.

The day after the storm broke with sunshine and the most brilliant blue skies.  We needed that warmth and brightness to sustain us…  it was a gift from God.

Even knowing He is with us we and our neighbors are nevertheless finding ourselves shell-shocked and depressed.  We are grateful of course to be spared the devastation of the storms, but we are deeply shaken in a way that you probably will not understand.  Though we did not suffer devastation, we are brought to an understanding of how it really was for others during the storm.  We knew it was bad, we now know that if the storm came to our home we would most likely have been taken.  We were the fortunate ones.   We spent almost a week with no electrical power, no gasoline, no groceries.   A week when we were running our generators, and trying to find out the news… find out where to go for necessities, for help…  We are trying to get back to our routines, to help those we can and to return to the “normalcy” of everyday life.

We see the pictures on television and realize there is no normal at times like this.  We fear the devastation, are grateful for not having to have suffered it, and our hearts are breaking for those who did suffer.

The wonderful news in all of this is that I found the owners of the “Storm Mail” and Mr. Garrison told me how much he appreciated that I called to check on him.  He lost a cousin who was swept away while at work on their chicken farm.  He told me his cousin “…didn’t think it was anything to worry about.”  Dale and his wife Marilyn have lost all they owned, home and business.  He said he had received several calls from people like myself who had found some of his things.  We talked for a while and he told me his story.  Before hanging up  he asked for my address.  I am so glad I called and that he and his wife are alive.

It is all so horrific, surreal, mind numbing to see.  The areas of worst devastation are blocked to all but those authorized to help and the people who live in the area.

Healing will take a while.  The reminders will be here for a very long time.

The ancient oak was possibly here when the Native Americans owned this land, It may have witnessed the first settlers, the cotton fields and slavery.  That it witnessed the Civil War, and resultant freedom of the slaves is a certainty.   It stood tall and sturdy through other storms that came and wentIt provided shade at the bend in the road and we all admired its beauty.  It grew less than one-quarter mile from our home.

No matter where you travel you will see the piles, carried or bulldozed to the sides of the streets and roads.  Everyone has a pile that is waiting to be hauled away…

A porch, its rockers, and a painted pony lay in a heap.  The destruction of the property of those effected is pushed to the curb as rubble.  Strange but true!  The power that took all of this, peeled the roof off of the barn,  leveled the garage, and pealed the brick off of the side of these people’s home…

left their bottle tree untouched.

Accompanied by a truck full of rubble, the old silo now lays in the field like a crushed soda can at the side of the road…  waiting to be carted away.

~*~

Needing a break from the sound of generators and the news on the television, we drove out and into Tennessee.  There we found that in spite of it all, the sun still came out and Spring continued to sing her song.

This pasture was filled with the sweetest scent imaginable.

~*~

You can help the victims of these storms both here in Alabama and in Mississippi by donating to the Red Cross.

~*~

An aside:  Want to know more about Bottle Trees?  What’s a Bottle Tree you ask?  Click on the link  —> HERE    You will find that Bottle Trees have an interesting tradition.

An Event to be Reckoned With: severe weather

We woke up at 4:30 AM to the NOAA weather radio’s alarm.  The first wave hits our area.  As per usual, we came through nerves frayed, but OK.  The schools have closed their doors for the day.

The sun is shining now at 10:00 AM and the wind is picking up.  The second wave is on its way and the Governor has declared a “State of Emergency” for the whole state of Alabama.

The alarm goes off again.  It is 11:20, and although it is not on us I still feel the pit of my stomach tighten.   The storm has really picked up speed and it is on Athens doorstep and the sky is darkening here in Hazel Green.

I watch the lines of the storms moving across the map on television, and think of the armies marching on Minas Tirith.  It is overwhelming to me.  I think I should turn off the television and just go clean house or sew on my quilt, but I don’t.  The television’s constant conversations, and maps are my friend for the moment.

I eat another cookie.

I see my cat Claus run by the dining room window and he has something wriggling in his mouth.  He heads for the park.  Jumping up I go out, following his path to see what he’s captured.  It is the baby Robin I had been photographing this very morning when the first wave had subsided.  He appears to be fine and in spite of nearly having become a meal himself, he turns to me and opens his beak chirping for a meal!  I take him back to the tree and try to imagine how to get him back up there!  The ladder will take too long and his parents are dive bombing me while I stand there.  Finally I run to the barn and grab the broom.  I tell him, “Hold on baby, its a bumpy ride from here!”

I put him on the broom, lift him up to the closest branches and cheer him on… will he hop off the broom and onto the branch?  He does!  His parents swoop to the tree and continue to scold me.  As I walk away I wonder if it was a futile attempt with the next storms on the way.

In the time it took me to write this the alarm has gone off two more times, the reporters are confirming tornadoes, and the siren is going off outside.  That last cookie is doing somersaults in my stomach…

Bob calls and says he’s coming home.  We hang up.  The newsman is telling me that the wall cloud has produced a funnel cloud where Bob is.  I call him back and he says he’s seeking shelter as we speak.

I am numb.

Our power is cutting in and out.  I think I may go to my neighbors for shelter.

The phone rings, I answer it, the power goes out.  I look out the window, the wind is pushing the rain horizontal, and it has become very dark.

Earlier in the day I had prepared myself a cubby in the pantry.  I go there now and sit in the dark. When it gets quiet the weather radio comes back on and tells me the storm has moved on to somewhere else.

The only sound I hear is Bob’s battery backup beeping.  It reminds me of the hospital.   I crawl out of hiding and turn it off.

I call Bob and he is fine.  I venture out to check the chickens, Polly and her babies, and find them unharmed.

So now I wait for the third wave.  The newsman has warned us that the third squall line is going to be a wicked one.  At this point I am scared spitless, and can’t even imagine worse that what we’ve already had but I take it seriously and prepare myself as best I can.  Suddenly I feel very tired.  I have no idea what it will be like, but I am emotionally spent.  It is said that ignorance is bliss, but at this moment I would disagree. In spite of my terror I lay down on the couch to rest.  The little dog whines and I let him get up to lie next to me.  Laying there we are a comfort to each other… we fall asleep.

Buddy barks to signal that Bob is home.  I feel such a sense of relief to not be facing this emergency without him.  He goes out and starts the generator so that we can have the television news to help us understand the storm system that is terrifying us.

Between the hours of 3:30 and about 6:30 we would enter the pantry many times and pull the dog’s mattress up over us.  We had no idea each time we went in to shelter ourselves if we would make it or not.  We knew it was bad, we heard it on the news, and we would have no conception of the devastation all around us until the morning light.

This morning we know that all of North Alabama is without power.  We are pretty sure that the worst devastation was produced by EF 4 (winds of 190 mph) and EF 5 (over 200 mph!) Tornadoes.   It breaks my heart to see it; I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to live through it.

Today we run the generator in spells to keep the food from thawing and to get a bit of news at the same time.  When not listening to news we are in the yard cleaning up the debris left from the horrible winds we got here.

I rake up tar paper, and a bit of wall board.  It was part of someone’s home.  It makes me cry.

I find a bit of white paper on the ground.  I pick it up and  the shape of it is eerily familiar… it was an envelope from a card,  hand addressed to a family on Highway 194, in Russellville.  I look up the address on my NUVI and find that it is 82 miles away from our home.   Again I find myself tearing up.  I wonder if they are OK.  Did they make it through?

Perhaps you will not understand, but I am resolved that when the power is restored, the roads are cleared and the dusk to dawn curfew is lifted, that I will have to go find this family.  I have to know that they made it.  A tattered bit of their life has traveled by storm, fallen from the sky, and landed in my life.  I feel a connection.  I have to know…

It is beyond comprehension that nature can tear apart so many lives, take so many lives, leave some with nothing at all, and yet leave their neighbor unscathed.   Yet, here we are.  We are inconvenienced by a lack of electricity but can’t complain.  We have so much to be grateful  for and we praise God that we are here and our home was untouched.

And we pray for those who have experienced loss.  I ask for your prayers for them too.  It will take a long time to rebuild, and even longer to heal.

Tattered Life via Storm Mail

 

Addendum:  4/29/11 This posting of Wednesday’s event here in Alabama is being sent out from Tennessee as we still have no power and may not have till next week.  A very few areas have regained some power, but most efforts for restoration are on hospitals, pharmacies, gas stations water pumping stations and some grocery stores.  All these essentials are being brought up and online via generators.

Due to the severe circumstances many are shining and coming through for those in need in ways that are simply heroic.  Yet, we got news this morning that in spite of the curfews there are malcontents who have begun looting.  I do not understand the mentality of this kind person.

 

NOTE:  If you are interested in seeing the magnitude and sheer force of the tornadoes that hit Alabama you may go to Youtube and simply type in “Alabama tornado April 27, 2011.”  There are many who braved the situation to record them.  They are awesome, powerful and frightening.

After the storm

We had a terrific storm pass through yesterday.  It threatened tornadoes, blew down trees and billboards, dropped penny and quarter sized hail in places, and all the while it thundered and threw lightning bolts that shook the house…

Meanwhile, Bob was driving home in all this mess, and right here on the Farmlet we mostly got the rain and lightning show.   Although, a huge wind blew in at the beginning of the storm.  I watched helplessly as it  pushed a robin off the roof and past my window like paper (the bird was OK) and downed several branches from the trees… but we’re OK too!

This morning, as always, the sun came up and things are pretty much back to normal.

Oh, and I almost forgot!

Dick, the little pony out back, thinks it’s a fine mornin’ too!

Have a Blessed day!

…and I survived it all too.

This has been a wonderful and terrifying week here on the Farmlet.  As you may know, we fixed our well two weeks back, and now this week brings the rain.  Isn’t it ironical that when you get it in your mind to finally do something about a situation, that the situation is suddenly resolved of its own accord?  Such was the case with the water shortage we have been experiencing this summer.

So, on Monday we had rain.

And in only 15 minutes we had three inches out our back door!

The  front of our little Farmlet didn’t look much better.  As you can see we had the beginnings of a stream going down the street.  Ha ha ha… much to our chagrin, you will also notice that now that we have the new garage/barn, we leave the truck parked in the driveway anyway.  (Except when we know it is going to hail since we get golf ball sized hail around here!)


Although Cheeky, Polly, Spot and Molly didn’t seem to mind it at all!  They had a blast bathing and dibbling in standing water that rose to their knees!

Which reminds me… Molly has discovered this week that if she runs fast enough, and flaps her wings hard enough,  that she can make it over the fence and into the neighbor’s yard.  I cannot even begin to describe the look of surprise, nay, SHOCK on the face of my neighbor when he saw her invading is yard.  He just stood there, rooted to the spot and unable to move… I guess he has a real phobia when it comes to geese.  Who knew?

And that brings me to Tuesday morning when it began to rain buckets again!  I looked out to see that there was a moat of debris built up, and it was holding the water causing it to back up into the chicken’s run.  Donning my wellies and grabbing my umbrella, I stood on the porch and listenend for thunder. Hearing none on I went, braving the rain, to break up the dam and save my chicks from wet feet.

Well, I nearly had the job done when I heard this strange sound in the trees behind me.  Sort of electrical, but on a massive scale… I turned in time to see a bolt of lightning materialize out of thin air and stab the earth in three places.  The shock wave from a lightning’s thunder blast of that scale is perceptible  and frightening beyond belief.  I seemed unable to move.  In a book it might read:

She stood there holding her breath, frozen in fear and unable to move.  Then hearing the electricity crawl up and then down again, with a sound not unlike some behemoth generator buzzing behind the trees, she broke inertia and dove into the chicken’s run for safety.

I tried to rationalize what I heard.  I told myself it was harmonics from the sound waves hitting the metal buildings, but the sound was coming from the woods, NOT the buildings…

Intercloud lightnings over Toulouse (France). ...

Image via Wikipedia

So here is what I found out about lightning – and I will not even try to put it into my own words because… I can’t:

“Lightning is usually initiated within the thunderstorm cloud when a faint, negatively charged channel called the stepped leader emerges from the base of the cloud and propagates toward the ground in a series of steps of about 1 microsecond in duration and 150-300 feet in length. The stepped leader reaches from cloud base to ground in about a hundredth of a second. As the stepped leader approaches the ground, streamers of positive charge rush upward from objects on the ground. When one of the streams contacts the leading edge of the stepped leader, the lightning channel is opened, negative charge starts flowing to the ground, and a return stroke, lasting about a tenth of a second, propagates through the channel as a bright luminous pulse.”  *Sometimes, following the initial return stroke, one or more additional leaders may propagate down the decaying lightning channel at intervals of about a tenth of a second. These leaders, called dart leaders, are not stepped or branched like the original leader, but are more or less direct and continuous. Like the stepped leader, however, they initiate return strokes. These return strokes are what we call lightning.”

(From the National Weather Service at: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/fgz/science/lightnin.php?wfo=fgz  )

Right about then I was feeling like this lady…

Needless to say I was ‘adrenalized’ for the duration of the day!

I Later told Bob that my Guardian Angels were “…working at WARP SPEED,”  to which he replied, “Their wings must have been singed too!”

So, after all that, it is good to tell you that our week ended on a sweet and gentle note.  We have a new resident on the Farmlet!

Meet *Little-Bit

Back history:  We lost Fatty Cat about a month ago.  It was the usual story… she went out one night and did not return in the morning.  She has left a hole in our family and was sorely missed by all…  especially Claus who was missing his  playmate.

And so it was, that on Thursday when I took the Boys to the vet for allergies, I chanced to meet Little-Bit…  and realized she needed a home.

Well I ask you… How could I say no?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* I now believe this was the “electrical behemoth” I heard in the woods.

**Yes, she’s named after that Little-Bit from Fried Green Tomatoes!