Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Iowa Hurricane 2020

I won't forget the events of the derecho 2020 (also referred to as the Iowa Hurricane) anytime soon. It was a crazy day, 48 hours, and week. I noped out of Iowa after 72 hours of no power and nothing to do, but that morning will forever the way I prepare for severe weather in the future.

6:30 a.m.: I watched the morning news, where I'm informed there's a 20% chance of rain for the day. Our county was not in the severe thunderstorm watch area.

8:30 a.m.: I wandered into the living room and realized the TV was still on. I took note, before I switched it off, that our county was now part of the severe thunderstorm watch and the best chance of rain was mid-day. Cool, I informed the kids that we might get a thunderstorm and went about my morning. 

9:15: I noticed dark clouds to the west. For some reason, I began lighting more candles than usual and set out flashlights. Better to be prepared, I thought to myself. I rarely am prepared for us to lose power. I'm still not completely sure what made me prepare this time, but I'm glad I did.

10:30 a.m.: I took note that the clouds were even darker than usual before a storm. I took the dog out, had the kids bring all shoes and items in from outdoors, and I shut up the house; locking doors and windows. Another thing I rarely do because it's Iowa and we're used to storms. I still can't explain what made me do these things, but I'm quite certain this prevent damage that we likely would have sustained had I not secured the windows and doors.

10:40 a.m.: Emails and text from family and daycare parents came in about the impending storm. I prepared the kids that we may need to go to the basement and if we lose power, don't worry. I set out flashlights and phone for easy grabbing.

10:50-ish a.m.: The house went dark. Before the winds started blowing. Minutes later the wind and rain came. As the kids were walking to the basement stairs (in the hallway), I heard a faint noise followed by a large boom as the house shook. I told them to move quickly and carefully to the basement. I had to carry the dog down the stairs because he doesn't like stairs. Since I was the last one to go down the basement stairs, I witnessed tree branches and debris slam into our windows and house courtesy of the insane winds. 

The next 30 minutes were kind of a blur. Through the basement windows we saw trees on the ground, one being right up against the side of the house. Our basement drowns out noise well. This is something I typically love about our basement, but on this day it was not helpful. I had to keep going upstairs to listen for the sirens. I put music on my phone while the kids talked and played in the basement with the toys. Everyone was shockingly calm. I still can't get over how well the kids listened and followed the directions I gave

The storm itself did not scare me. What left me scared and worried were the events after the storm. I tried to make a call after I realized there was a tree down next to our house. It would be almost 2 hours after the storm hit that I would be able to make it outside to survey any damage. I didn't know how bad it was, only what I could see from the windows. I was getting emails and texts from people checking on us, but I could not return them. My messages and calls could not go out! I had very little cell service (which lasted five days, until our power was restored). I finally got through to Matt, who was hunkered down in his truck, on the road for work. He had to text daycare parents, let everyone know we were okay, but kids needed picked up asap. In the 9 1/2 years daycare has been open, something like this has NEVER happened!


A super confused doggo, who spent the week stressed beyond belief.

Our air conditioner was trapped under this tree. A daycare dad came by quickly and cleared our air conditioner, so we could see if we had any damage (or if it was actually crushed). As it turns out, as of now, the damage is just cosmetic. We got extremely lucky, both with the lack of damage done AND my amazing daycare families!

It was a while before parents could get through to pick up kids. Of course, this was week was cooking week, so I had very little food that didn't require to be cooked. The kids snacked on chips, bread, sliced cheese, and carrots. Then we went into the backyard and the kids helped pick up sticks and limbs. At that time we discovered an opossum nest and the kids "rescued" the opossums. Never. A. Dull. Moment over here.

Zeus was in heaven with all of the branches to chew on!

I was slowly able to survey damage around us. I quickly realized our street was not passable (or at least no safe passage), there were lines, debris, and trees were down everywhere. As I spoke with neighbors, who slowly trickled out of their houses, I realized no one in our neighborhood was able to get cell service. We couldn't get web pages to load, couldn't make calls without them dropping. I felt trapped, worried because I wasn't sure how bad our damage actually was since a tree was pressing against part of our house, with our air conditioner crushed under it. As worried as I was at that point, I was extremely grateful we were all safe. It is not lost on me that had the tree fallen an inch more, it would have crushed our house and us in the basement. 

The rest of the day progressed, but not without stress. Since we didn't have a way of checking the news, we had no idea how wide spread the damage was. Until late afternoon, I kept expecting to see a MidAmerican truck head down our street and get us back up and running. I wouldn't know until Tuesday morning that we likely wouldn't get power back until the end of the week. I didn't know until Tuesday afternoon that was hit us was called a derecho, one that was equivalent to a category 2 hurricane. I can now say the kids and I have lived through a hurricane.

For the first 50 hours or so after the storm, we concentrated on cleaning up. Neighbors helped us, we helped neighbors, friends helped us, daycare families helped. We bought a chainsaw and cut up trees. We worked until our arms were sore. I took my kids and neighbor kids for lunch so I could charge my phone (and bring lunch back for the hardworking neighbors helping us). Matt took the next day off to clear the tree that fell. It was a very long day, but we still enjoyed our time. The kids slept in tents with neighbor friends (in someone else's backyard, since our's was still a mess), ran around with friends and pitched in with clean up.

Since we didn't have power, we did a lot of driving around to charge phones. Zeus napped a lot in the car while we drove.

Quickly finishing up the ice cream in the freezer so we "didn't lose it completely."

Unfortunately, the temperature began to rise. By Wednesday morning, we were beat. Tired, sore, and ready for power to come back on. That morning we were informed our power wouldn't be back until Saturday. I took the minis and Zeus to a lake to cool off, then back home to do the last of the yard clean up. That afternoon, unable to work and not much to do since there was still no power, I decided to skip town with the crew. 

Coloring by candle light, as I tried to pack bags in the dark.

Our families helped out immensely. My in-laws did our laundry (Monday is a big laundry day in our house and obviously that got interrupted), took Elizabeth so she could rest, offered meals, my dad and uncle came and helped us cut up the large tree. I definitely felt the love from our family and neighbors, but the best decision made that week was heading for a quick getaway. The sound of the tree falling and the way the house shook will forever be etched in my brain. The realization of how bad things could have been also has me re-thinking severe weather policies for daycare and how things are handled. Live and learn holds true for last week. Never in my life did I think I'd experience a hurricane, but leave it to 2020 to give us that life experience.