A tornado hit my neighborhood

Recommended Posts

Tuesday night, a tiny tornado twisted up my garden arbor, just a bit of my cinderblock garden, ripped the wooden backyard fence into a few major pieces, obliterated a chaise and misc. stuff out there, threw a gigantic branch at the back of my house, ripped off very major branches of all five of the trees on my lot (four are ~7-10 stories tall), and threw one of those uber-branches right through my brand new screen porch door.


A number of city biz lost their big high lighted signs and bit of roof or things on it, some houses had carport awnings twisted into pretzels, and a few entire trees were ripped up, one two doors down which luckily only clipped the very edge of their roof when it fell.


Which is to say we got lucky, it was very small, it was fairly high up, and it was moving at a decent speed.


My neighbors have been chainsawing all the giant tree parts it to bits in prep for getting rid of all the waste, the other neighbor's putting the fence back together. Apparently me being a woman with a heart condition has inspired them to volunteer. Nicest guys ever. I lived in California all my life and 95% of the time I didn't even hardly know my neighbors. Different culture than the Ozarks. It's this way all over the city. I'm willing to bet that within a week there will be almost no sign a storm happened anywhere here, aside from a few missing things not yet replaced or rebuilt.

I had forgotten that tornados when picking up everything include all the trash in every retail dumpster of all kinds, oh boy, and every garden pot and offbeat thing anybody has in a back yard, industrial or retail storage yard, etc. It's a blessing that this was very 'high' (minimal effect on ground-things) plus limited to this tiny area moving one direction, or we would also have been gifted, like Joplin was, with every cow, horse, outdoor pet or animal, along with everything else.


This is just a tiny thing... high winds with a bit of suction and lift, mostly six feet up or higher. Joplin and Picher were horrible. Basically lift 40-80% of every imaginable thing up including telephone poles and wires and vehicles and houses, blender it, then distribute it in a thick layer evenly everywhere. My next door neighbor of the time was a managing nurse at the hospital that was so wiped out there, she had just got home and turned around and left again and did emergency triage for a week. I kept her kid.


I didn't drive through Joplin until two weeks later. The Corps of Engineers in this country is AMAZING. And they had volunteers from all over the nation fly and drive in to volunteer to run bulldozers and cranes and work on power poles and everything you can imagine. Two weeks later when I drove through the main roads, they had managed to get all of them bulldozed off (pushed off to the sides) so emergency vehicles could get through, they were doing that from the instant it was over.


Looking at the horrific mangled "integration" of structures, vehicles, trees and poles, endless phone/power lines, animals, trash, and god knows what else, along with the shocking devastation to buildings (now merged with parts of cars and more) was truly, deeply traumatic. We were all "OMG!" when we began the drive. It's flat out here, 'mostly', so it would be everywhere, then you'd come over the slightest rise and again the entire environment as far as the eye could see was just total devastation. (Kinda reminded me of driving cross-country from California where somewhere around early New Mexico you start thinking you're on an endless road but must be in a loop you'll never escape. The billboards repeat, in the same pattern, which increases this feeling!)


I think the body senses this on some really core level that we consciously cannot. You always hear people on the news saying that pictures can't convey it and I think that's what the people really mean, natural disasters shock your body in some way even just to observe after the fact, the sheer scope of them. We were utterly silent for 90% of the drive in stunned horror, then we went to a steakhouse and I had two drinks -- I don't drink, I hadn't had a drink in probably 15 years (no big deal, just not my thing) -- the drinks didn't help like I thought they would. I had photos on my celfon that I had intended to put online to show friends and coworkers. I put off even looking at them. And put it off. And put it off. A year later, I deleted the lot of them without ever looking at them. That's how upsetting it was.


Anyway, I was feeling like we were starting to exceed probability here of how long since this precise region (my house) had been affected by cycling winds. Mind you we get "straight-line" winds that are tornadic speeds, they just don't get the fame. But since they aren't cycling they don't suck things up into the sky and most stuff does ok at resisting high winds, aside from the little things (garden pots and trash and so on).


I was at home (my dad has a shelter but I'm still not recovered enough to get back up that vertical ladder with the huge step at the top). I've been here 19 years and in that time only once prior have I felt the need to take some kind of shelter. Which I don't have. I have a bathtub, and that's a possibility, but it's on the outer southeast wall which is the most dangerous. My bedroom closet is right in the middle of the house with a regular-knob door, which makes it the safest place in the house, even though closets are not all that safe (and drywall is laughable for protection, however, it is in the middle, which helps). (If the house is directly hit, at ground level, let alone by something slow-moving, we're all toast.)


I had an intuition suddenly that this was an emergency for me, and the storm wasn't even that bad at all comparative to many, but I trust my intuition, which I consider my subconscious + psi, since it has successfully saved my life many times. I ripped out 75% of my closet content and boxes frantically -- I'm seldom in my closet and hadn't realized my house helper had shifted it to that state -- and just as I was about at that point, it felt like a whompf of wind hit the bedroom window-wall, and then the cat flap on the door in the window lifted OUT and fully up, suctioning, and I dived for the closet, and my cat Miri (just one of them but the closest to me and the only one in my room) was happy to dive in there with me.


About seven seconds after that, standing cramped in the dark and holding the doorknob in case suction pressure hit the door, there was this big crash-thud-sharp sound that I couldn't tell if it was something IN my room (couldn't think of anything in there huge and heavy and high-to-fall that could make that sound) or just outside it. Turned out to be a tree limb larger than most trees, that hit the back wall, blessedly it was very parallel when doing so and it hit the edge of the metal awnings over the two back windows, and then fell down and some of its big branches hit the house, but it was ok... far as I know so far.


In the front of the house, my front tree was just devastated by it. Not ripped up (fortunately). I paid an arborist a small fortune to improve all these trees last winter, or they'd have been so unbalanced and top heavy and wide they might have fallen, so, lucky that. Every limb that wasn't nearly vertical was torn off. Fortunately they all fell mostly straight down, so although it trapped my vehicle just a little, it didn't damage anything. The side tree lost a big limb through the porch door, but fortunately only through the door, and only the screen, and that's easily replaceable and not expensive.


I just bought this house two months ago. I've been living in it for 19 years paying the house payment/insurance/taxes (my dad bought it, he had credit but no money and I had a steady income but no credit). I've been pricing home insurance, which costs more than I expected, and haven't yet found a plan and bought it, so I have no insurance -- so I'm incredibly fortunate this didn't turn out badly for me.


Here's a few (messy!) pics.









My neighbors got VERY lucky that tree fell the direction it did




A block away












  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good to hear that you're okay.

Yep wind, can be very strong at times.


While in the military was stationed in Oklahoma and Alabama.  They have a region that's called tornado Alley.  Interesting watching the storms develop.

Edited by windwalker
  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites