Monday, March 5, 2007

Manic Monday: BLOW

Well, today's Manic Monday word is "Blow."
I know, I know, this could potentially have been a very fun word to write about, with some not-so-PG-rated results.
But for me, all I could think of was the wind blowing... and that's a scary thing for me to think about. That's because back in November 1998, my home was destroyed by a violent windstorm. And I do mean destroyed. The roof was ripped right off, in the middle of the night, waking me up out of a sound sleep.
It was perhaps the most terrifying moment of my life.
Here's a copy of the e-mail I sent to my friends the next day:
A terrible thing happened.

My home was destroyed last night.

The winds were so strong that the roof was ripped right off. The walls took a horrible beating, and a few doors were twisted right off their hinges.

Some furniture was crushed and ruined. Debris was flying everywhere. This happened last night (Tuesday) around midnight. I was asleep in bed at the time, and was awakened by the most awful, awful sound I’ve ever heard in my life. I opened my eyes, and saw only sky above me. No ceiling. The power had gone out about three hours earlier, so I wasn’t able to see where I was going as I stumbled around, panicked and hysterical. The winds were SO strong. I can’t describe it. Things were blowing around, papers were flitting away, and I was powerless to stop it. The walls were wobbling, and I was very afraid. I quickly called for help (the phone was still working) and my parents came over to help me load up the few valued possessions I could identify and locate by flashlight. We had to hurry because it sounded like the walls were about ready to blow away.

There was broken glass on the floor. This was from a full-length mirror that was originally in the opposite corner of the bedroom. The wind had thrown it all the way across the room. If I had sat up in bed or got up at the wrong time, I could have been very seriously injured by flying glass. As it is, I have a cut on my foot from walking on it. It’s a small cut. I’m grateful that was my only physical injury. Emotionally, though, I was absolutely out of control. I vaguely remember sitting there in my chair, waiting for mom and dad to arrive, crying and sobbing at the top of my lungs. I kept shouting, "help me."

I was panicked, I was crying, I was hysterical.

I had no idea where the cats were, and it broke my heart to have to leave them there overnight. For all I knew, the place would be decimated by morning, and the cats would either run away into the forest or be hurt by flying debris.

I spent the night at my parents' house, but understandably did not get much sleep.

The next morning (this morning), we made the dreaded journey back to my home to see what could be saved.

Miraculously, the walls were still standing, but many things were completely ruined, crushed, or simply missing. There were ceiling tiles and insulation all over the front yard and along the fence.

There were even things that had been blown up into the trees.

My roof lay over in the field more than 300 feet away. It looked like one big crumpled sheet of paper.

The insurance representative came over and measured that distance: officially, my roof was thrown 373 feet from my home.

My whole family came over to help, loading my possessions onto their vehicles and taking it over to my folks’ house to store there until I have someplace to live.

I can’t even begin to count the number of bags we simply filled with miscellaneous garbage and just threw away.

I am homeless. I will be living with my family until the insurance people replace my home (yes, that’s the good news, at least: the insurance people came out and took one look at the remains of my home—they didn’t even TRY to argue. It was unanimously agreed that there was no way the place could ever be repaired. I’ll be receiving a check for the maximum amount allowed and will use that to find a new place to live.)

Until then, I find myself still very much in denial and shock.

24 hours ago, I still had a home.



So you can see why the sound of harsh blowing wind still scares me.
(By the way, the cats ended up being fine... I found them that following morning. They'd wisely chosen to hide in a closet.)
A few months later, I did find a new place to live, which is where I'm still living today. It is a better home than the previous one, which I suppose adds some credence to the theory that things sometimes work out for the best.


Travis said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing such an intensely personal story.

I remember going through the strong winds last November. The sound is incredible and powerful.

Your email is amazing.

Gattina said...

That was a breathtaking story ! My godness, what a luck you had ! I can understand your fear of wind after such an experience ! We had a very strong and very unusual storm here in Belgium also in the 90th. The wind blow at 200km/h (124 mph) many roofs were blown away, we were lucky but 3 of our trees just were cut off by the storm and lay on the street the next morning ! Since that day even a little wind makes me nervous !

Lizza said...

Wow, Janna. I can completely understand your panic and hysteria; that experience scared me and I was just reading it!

Yes, maybe things sometimes work out for the best. I'm just glad you weren't hurt badly.

Crazy Working Mom said...

Wow, what a story! How were the cats?

Jamie said...

It is good that you made it through okay though recent news about the high school probably brings back memories. Stay Safe.

lisa said...

Thank you for sharing that great story this morning. I cannot even imagine what it must have been like to wake up to that. Thank goodness you are ok and glad to hear you are finally in your new home.

Desert Songbird said...

I've had some scary encounters with wind, but none as terrifying as yours. I cannot imagine the abject terror you must have felt that night, and I don't ever want to have to go through the process of starting over again as you did. It's good that you can see some bright side to it.

Morgen said...

I remember that!!!
In your old yard (pre-tornado) you used to have puff balls the size of soccerballs in your yard!
Glad the kitties were okay!
And GREAT entry for a blow blog!

Natalie said...

Oh my gosh! That was so scary to read. I can't imagine waking up to only sky above me. I'm glad you and the cats were ok.

A.J.Reams said...

Holy smokes, what an awful thing to have to experience. Thanks for mentioning the cats, I was worried about them. I can't believe that with all the destruction you only got a cut on your foot. That just amazes me.

I'm so glad that you were safe and also that your parents lived close enough to help!

Mr. Fabulous said...

Wow...I can't even imagine...

Turnbaby said...

OMG tht's too frightening to contemplate. Srong winds don't scare me but I think I'd feel differently had that happened. Glad you and the kitties were safe. Great entry for the theme.

katherine. said...

damn. Glad your story has a happy ending. Whenever I read of experiences like yours...I think I'd much rather live in earthquake country.

great post for "blow"

Matt-Man said...

Wind and Tornadoes frighten the piss out of me. By the way, I caught Loreena McKennitt on PBS this past weekend. She was frickin' awesome. Cheers!!

Skittles said...

How terrifying!!!!

Neila said...

Wow Janna!! What an incredible story. You are very lucky that you were okay. It always amazes me the damage that mother nature can do in the blink of an eye.

Meloncutter said...

The main reason the wind blows is something downwind from you sucks. The harder it blows, the harder something sucks.

Does that make sense?

Good Post tho....

Later Y'all

Stewart Sternberg said...

Some things that occur in our lives are transforming. They remind us or what is important and what our role in is the universe. I am glad you made it through in one piece. THat must have been a horrible experience.

Living in the midwest, I know something about tornadoes. I've stood on the edge of a cornfield and watched one touch down, moving across the land like something alive. I've also seen them out on Lake Huron, spouts; I think a more rare phenomenon.

We see these manifestations of nature, but it takes an experience like yours to make one realize the tremendous amount of power and the illusion of safety we live under.

Janna said...

Travis: It IS a very powerful sound. Hard to believe something invisible can be so destructive and loud.

Gattina: Wow, 124 mph is hurricane-force winds!!

Lizza: Yes. At least this time things did work out for the best. :)

Crazy Working Mom: They were scared for awhile but ended up being ok.

Jamie: Yes, in fact that high school DID remind me of my roof incident...

Lisa: It was definitely not a good way to wake up, that's for sure!

Desert Songbird: 'Abject terror' is a good way to describe it. The whole 'starting over' thing was hard as well.

Morgen: Yes, wow, you remember the puffballs!

Natalie: It was a surreal moment. Usually when one opens one's eyes in bed, one expects to see a ceiling between themselves and the bare sky. Not this time...

AJ: I was VERY grateful that my parents lived close enough to help. I don't know what I would have done otherwise.

Janna said...

Mr. Fab: I know... It's hard to imagine until it's actually happened to you. Scary stuff.

Turnbaby: Strong winds didn't really scare me either, before this whole thing happened. Now I definitely flinch more often!

Katherine: Yikes, I'm not sure earthquakes would be much better! I've never been through one of those, but they sound pretty bad too.

Matt-Man: Oooh, I love Loreena McKennitt!

Skittles: Yes! It was! :o

Neila: I definitely have a healthy respect for Mother Nature after living through this thing...

Meloncutter: Well, this thing both blew AND sucked. Big time! :)

Stewart: The waterspout sounds beautiful. I definitely agree with you about the "illusion of safety."

Christine said...


Anonymous said...

Janna, it's a wonder you lived through that and still be sane...OMG! I'd be so afraid every time the wind blows...