Tuesday, August 10, 2021

August 10, 2020

 One year ago, we were standing in the daycare room. There was a chance of rain in the forecast, but I didn't think much of it. There's often rain predicted, but nothing happens and vice versa. My mother-in-law called me and told me to put on the news because a storm was coming. There were no alerts on my phone. Gray clouds moved in, with light thunder in the distance. I called the kids in and turned on the news. I caught a couple of seconds worth of news when our power went out. 

I've lived in Iowa all my life. This means I go out to my front porch and watch the clouds during a tornado warning. It also means I've lived through flash floods, high winds, and tornado sightings, all while we pulled off the road on an Iowa country highway. I had faced Iowa weather, so a chance of rain and severe weather didn't bother me in the least. Of course, the power going out 20 minutes before a storm hit was unusual. Gut instinct is the only way to describe my actions. I lit candles, closed and locked all doors and windows, and I told the kids to move into the hallway. Not any of my previous experiences told me to do those things, I just had a feeling that it would be best to do them.

The sky was dark. I heard tornado sirens go off in the distance. I listened hard because they weren't ours. Our siren is right by our house and leaves us deaf each time it goes off. I could hardly heard the sirens. And with that, a huge gust of wind came. I told the kids to go to the hallway immediately. As we walked into the hallway, a huge crash shook the house.

"Basement! Now! Go, go go!" I said as little feet raced down the stairs. I glanced out our window and hurried down the stairs behind the last child. As I got to the bottom step, the kids started screaming, "there's a tree! A tree fell next to the house!" I still don't know how long we were in the basement or how long the storm lasted, but when we emerged from the basement, we discovered power lines draped across the street making it impassable, branches and parts of trees everywhere, and yes, a tree that fell right next to the house, burying our air conditioner. The tree was centimeters from falling onto the house. If it had fallen on the house, it would have fallen directly on the kids and myself. 

Even one year later I try not to think of that. How we narrowly missed a castrophe. What we got instead will never be forgotten. We were without power for a week. We couldn't get a cell signal at our house. It wasn't until hours after the storm, when I was able to make my way out of our neighborhood and head elsewhere in the city, that I learned how great the damage was. I clearly remember the sound the tree made as it crashed and how panicked I felt not being able to reach the outside world because I couldn't get a cell signal. I remember the stress and worry of the week, while my children remember things differently. They remember finding an oppossum nest in the mess of the branches in our backyard and saving the nest, reuniting the babies with the mom. They remember backyard camp outs with neighbors because it was too hot to sleep in the house. They remember drives around town, so we could charge our phones and enjoy the air conditioning of the car. They remember mom using a chainsaw and learning to use one themselves. They remember packing neighbor friends into our car and going to drive thrus to eat.

Eventually, the stress of the week (and zero air conditioning) got to me and, despite the pandemic, I hightailed it out of the city. I packed up the three minis, our four month old pandemic pup, and made a random trip to Duluth, MN. It's not until one year later, as I look back on the events of that day and week, I realize how life changing that week was. I had to do things I never in a million years had a desire to do (ehm, chainsawing a downed tree?? No thank you) and have our every day comforts ripped away. I made my first solo trip with the minis thanks to the derecho. I never would have made that trip otherwise.

Apparently, after facing a pandemic, I needed to face a freaking in-land hurricane to remind me of the confidence and power I possess. While I never want to re-live that day or spend too much time thinking about what could have happened, I am forever grateful for how that day and week turned out. As time passes, I imagine I'll think of "derecho week" more as my children do. Although, the sounds and fears of that day will forever remain etched into my brain.