Friday, May 30, 2008


Our town was hit by multiple tornadoes late Thursday afternoon. Thankfully my family and home are completely unscathed and no serious injuries were reported by anyone in town. However, there was extensive damage throughout our community. You can see photos and get all the statistics from our TV station and newspaper sites.
I'm afraid any commentary I could offer about the storm would sound either overly dramatic or less concerned about the damage than I should be so I'll just tell you what we were doing during all of this.
4:00 p.m. - I get off work, aware that severe weather is approaching. My husband gets home just before me and decides he better get the yard mowed before it starts to rain.
-I check the radar on the computer to see where the storms are and which way they are going. Looks like the worst of the storm might miss us and be north of us before it gets this far east.
-I turn on the TV to see what they are saying– Tornado warning for Buffalo County, the city of Kearney is in the path of this storm–sounds like we've got a good fifteen to twenty minutes until it gets here.
-The doorbell rings. It's the Fed Ex guy, delivering the Guitar Hero game that my husband bought on ebay
-The phone rings. It's my mom calling to make sure we know about the tornado warning.
-I have the kids put on their shoes and get ready to go to the basement, find my cell phone and a flashlight and put them in my pocket and put my purse and a few photos and things at the top of the basement steps to grab on my way down.
-I continue to monitor the situation on the TV, totally absorbed and unaware that my son and our Boston Terrier puppy have been playing a little too rough, and my son has been injured. He has quite a scratch on his face and is crying! (No, it wasn't a viscous dog attack, just one of those things).
-I break from the TV to care for my son and then the siren blows. I send the kids downstairs with the dogs then go outside and try to get my husband's attention. (He's still mowing). Finally he sees me making a twirly motion with my finger and gives me a nod. So, I go in and join my kids in the basement. I make them go in our office where we have a sturdy desk and table that they can get under if need be. I even gather blankets to cover them in case of shattering glass.
-I should note here that the sirens blow a few times every year and we always go to the basement when the sirens blow. But, we don't always make sure we have shoes on, we don't always make sure we have our cell phones, we don't always grab photos and things and we don't always go in the office with blankets, ready to dive under the desk. But this storm felt more threatening than others we've had.
–So, we've been in the basement for a couple of minutes, my husband still hasn't come down and my son is starting to get very concerned about him. I run up the steps to yell at my husband and I can't help but take a really quick peek out the window looking to the southwest. I don't think I actually saw a funnel cloud, but I did see the darkest, scariest looking cloud I've ever seen. I quickly go back downstairs and my husband follows shortly after.
-The lights flicker and then go off for a few minutes and we lose our TV reception.
-The storm seems to be right overhead and the house isn't falling in. We relax a little and let the kids hang out in the family room (in the basement). They play the new guitar hero game until the storm is over.
-We're able to get TV reception again and hear reports that multiple tornadoes have touched down in the city of Kearney. There are reports of damage in an area where a couple of my friends live. Then there are reports of damage kinda close to my parents' and grandparents' houses.
-I try to call my mom on her home phone. No answer. I try her cell. No answer. I try my dad's cell. No answer. I try my grandparents. No answer. The TV continues to report touchdowns and damage in Kearney. This is the scariest part of the whole thing. Knowing that we really have been hit and not knowing if my family and friends are ok.
-I go outside and see if there's been any damage in our neighborhood. We're fine but a low spot on our road is completely under water andthe neighbor's trampoline is in pieces in the middle of a nearby field.
-While I'm outside I finally get a hold of my mom and dad on my cell phone. They're fine, Grandma and Grandpa are fine, their houses fine except for some dings in the siding.
-We stay home, walk around the neighborhood, watch TV… I can't take it. Both land and cell phone service is spotty, it's hard to get through. I want to discuss what just happened with someone. I want to know how bad it was. We head for my mom and dad's house.We live just outside of town and they live on the edge of town, so we can get there without driving through town and getting in the way.
- Some houses about half way between here and there have major damage. A garage is leveled. The side of another garage is missing and several trees are uprooted.
-My parents and grandparents aren't home. My mom and grandpa are leaving for a special vets' trip to Washington D.C. on Friday morning and they're having a "send-off" party for the vets at the legion. It it going on as scheduled to so that's where they are.
So we go back home and listen to the news accounts of the tornado some more then go to bed.
Friday 5:00 a.m- I haven't heard anything about or from the place that I work. I have an adjusted schedule so my work day begins at 7:00 a.m. Almost everyone else, including my supervisor and the head of human resources, starts at 8:00. I don't want to bother them. I check the TV station's website for closings. Nothing there. One nearby factory is closed but another looks like they plan to open later in the morning. About 6:40 I decide I better head out. It's very, very foggy. I try taking my usual route but the road is blocked and I can just barely see that there are power lines laying across the road. My alternate route takes me by the fairgrounds, where the Expo building has been destroyed. I see lots of downed trees and power lines and other (fairly minor) damage. The fog makes it seem so ominous. Finally I turn into Morris Press and just then they come on the radio and announce that we're closed for the day.
The rest of day is spent calling friends (they're all ok) and hauling food from my parents and grandparent's house to my house to put in our fridge/freezer since they still don't have electricity and we do. We have grandma over for supper and later my aunt comes over and we spend a nice evening visiting around the kitchen table.

Power was restored at about 10:00 last night. We're going to spend today shopping and going to a concert in Omaha, and feeling very lucky.


Alison Gibbs said...

Emily how scary for you all.
Glad you and your family are ok

Heather said...

Emily--I'm so glad you posted about this. I know I don't really know you well, but I was going to email you because I heard there were tornadoes in Kearney. I'm originally from Bellevue, so I know all about Nebraska tornados. I'm so glad you and your family got through it OK. I hope there isn't too much clean-up around town. Take care!

Teena said...

We had a bit of wind last week - quite a few flowers got knocked over in the garden! There was a blip in the digital TV channel service. And we moaned about it! We English!!!! I just don't think we could cope with the excitement of real weather! xx

Happy said...

Hi there Emily - I am so glad that you and all your family are safe. It must of been so worrying for you all. We have been getting worse weather here lately, but nothing compares to the tornado's that you get...Our thoughts are with the families that have had terrible loss...take care - ill be thinking of you all - luv happy xx

PS emily could you please email me ( your email address so that I can add you to my blog list - my blog is for invited guests only while i decide what to do with it and I wouldnt want you not to be in touch with me...luv h x