For those of you who have been wondering what the heck happened to me and did not catch amfortas’ statement in the comment box, remember this: For me not to state my opinions daily, means that something is wrong: I’m either sick, or it’s an act of God, and in this case…a tornado hit my street.
Here’s what happened:
I live about seven miles away from where the Mississippi and the Missouri River join, and it’s prime territory for fluxuations in wind, and sometimes…we get tornadoes. Last year in St. Louis county, Lambert Field Airport (which is a five minute drive from my house) was hit with an F-5. The famous landmark where Charles Lindbergh took off in his Spirit of St. Louis was torn apart. I remember that night well. I was down in my basement praying that it would not come my way. It was that night that I decided to make a goal: inventory the whole upstairs for insurance purposes and get whatever I didn’t want to lose…downstairs by the next spring. But you know how life is: things happen, and I didn’t finish it. I was only halfway through. And I just had a gut feeling….I was running out of time.
Boy…was I ever right.
On April 10, last week, around 7pm, my husband and I were getting Chinese food at our favorite place down the street, and I heard the tornado sirens go off…but It didn’t upset me, because they go off all the time here and not much happens. After dinner, it was out to walk the dogs, but we only got half way down the street when the rain came down fast. As soon as we got inside, the power went out.
In a moment very uncharacteristic of him, my husband said we should go downstairs. As we lay in the dark on the bed in the basement, we were listening to my weather radio when I heard, “There is a reported touchdown in Hazelwood.”
“Wait…somebody just said a tornado touched down in Hazelwood!” I said.
My husband said, “No, he didn’t say that.” There you go. I lied. Sure. I didn’t hear that.
And then we both heard it. The wind. I didn’t hear a train, but a humongous WHOOOOoSSSSHHH! going down the sides of the house. Then, a sort of quiet. We had no clue how lucky we had been.
“We’d better go check the house.” I said. So, after the typical woman/man thing..”No YOU stay here.” we both went outside. It was still raining and lighting very hard. Part of our backyard fence had blown over, and my husband was tying it up with rope while I held the flashlight..both of us getting pelted from the cold wind and rain, and then I walked around to the front of the house and looked down the street.
It was dark, but all our neighbors were slowly coming out…and up the street, was the oldest tree (150) in the neighborhood, lying across the road. My husband went back inside, thinking that we were going in, and I said, “I’m going to go look at the tree.”
(What I didn’t tell him was that I was going exploring. It’s a bad habit of mine.)
As I walked up my street I saw all my neighbors coming out one by one, each one talking faster than the next: “Are you okay?” Most every house had trees fall through their roofs. Cars picked up, siding tossed in yards where it came from, who knew? Chimneys tossed, roofs off. It seemed that the three blocks before the tornado got to our street, the houses were completely destroyed. My street had actually been lucky. Even though every house had damage, the houses stayed intact. Evidently the tornado had touched down, then skipped up, just enough to rip up the trees, and throw them into the houses on our block. It zigzagged.
The good news: Nobody was hurt. Everyone had been in their basements, but one lineman had been electrocuted we heard later…going out that very night to take care of down wires.
Okay, you get it. If you’ve ever been in a tornado you know, people walking around, kids staring in shock, people crying. Every single house on the block had some kind of window or roof damage. It’s very sad to see the houses you’ve known for years get busted up. Trees you’ve grown up with, uprooted like mere toothpicks.
But it’s what happened AFTER the tornado that got me thinking.
After just twenty minutes, the men in the neighborhood all got out their chainsaws to remove tall the trees blocking the roads.
“Hey, I got a four wheel drive! Want some help?” Dozens of men got out their tools. The women of course looked shocked, but the men went right to work. Everyone was helping each other. Our men in the neighborhood cleared the fallen trees out the roads before anyone from the government came to help. And they did it fast, and in total cooperation.
It made me proud.
As the days went by, and I watched all the linemen come in from other states, the fact that all of them were men, made me wonder why do they keep trying to dish the good hard-working man? Don’t they see how desperately we need them?
It was amazing to see how quickly they worked to get the hundreds of telephone poles that were knocked down, up, and new ones in, and the electric back on, and they did it.
As a woman, I can’t help but love those guys. Men. Real men. Take their guns, their money, their families…for what? For the collective?
And then there was Pierce. Piece and his wife (a black couple) live two doors down, and they had a tree fall into their living room. The next day, all the neighbor men (all white) were helping him get a tree off his roof. These people were doing it because he is our neighbor, and a good man. He is an ex-marine, and a great addiction to our little neighborhood. He has the best lawn on the block. (He won’t tell us his secret though.)
At the end of the street, a new family of blacks move in, and there are about ten people living in this house, and they really don’t like white people. They had a party once, hip-hopsters walking all over the mostly white neighborhood, smoking who knows what in their cars.
And I will be called a raciest if I say it made me sad.
That night, I saw their three teenage black daughters walking around looking at the white men doing their jobs, with the most surprised look on their faces. We asked them if they were okay, but they didn’t talk back to us. I’m sure the damage they were looking at surprised them, but even more, I think they were shocked to see a real community…helping each other.
Now, skip ahead a few days.
My next door neighbor had a beautiful dogwood just snap at the base in her backyard. (see picture below) It had been cut up, but I was in the backyard picking up debris when I saw a group of people taking parts f the tree and dragging it into the front yard for pickup. There was more than one woman who looked like they really didn’t want to b there.
“Hey! Hi …everybody!.”I said cheerfully. And they all looked at me stone cold.
“Well gee…you’re a friendly bunch.” I said right to their faces. Come on…What? Was it my red sweat pants with the hole in the knee or my Russian hat?
I’m sorry, I don’t like being insulted.
Then the main guy came over and said, “I’m sorry…it’s just we’re all so tried. We’re teachers from the school and we’ve been doing this all day.”
Long story short…school was out, and the Hazelwood teachers were told to volunteer to go and help pick up the tree limbs. In other words, their government told them they must volunteer to do it. None of them wanted to actually DO physical work.
Well, the school kids have to volunteer their time to community service or they don’t graduate. They were getting a taste of their own “community socialist sweatshop” and they didn’t like it one bit.
As you can see from the pictures, my little neighborhood is still cleaning up. Windows blew out, trees fell on roofs, but it could have been worse. Someone could have died.
As for me, everyone was asking why in the world none of my trees went over. I’d like to say that God loves me, but all of my trees have porches of concrete over their roots. It was the concrete that held them from the wind gust I think.
It was sheer luck.
The good news is: I don’t have to rush my inventory anymore. I really don’t think a tornado is going to hit the same place this year….I’ll have more time to write.
The bad news is: Tornadoes are devastating people lives all over the country. Good thing we still have a lot of good men.