Monday, April 16, 2012
"If You're Enough Lucky...."*
This is one of the pictures I took of the tornado just a little over a year ago, March 22, 2011, while standing on our deck and looking northwest. It was about three miles from us and caused relatively little damage. At the time I thought that would probably be the closest any funnel cloud would come to us - possibly even the last time one even came so close to Creston in the remainder of my lifetime.
Last weekend the Storm Prediction Center issued high risk warnings for a large portion of the Midwest for "life threatening storms." Southwest Iowa was included in the area warned. It was only the second time warnings for possible violent tornadoes had been issued more than 24 hours in advance.
Saturday afternoon we began hearing about tornadoes in Oklahoma and Kansas. Storm systems were tracking north and east. Early evening the wind began blowing and rain came down in torrents. Nickle sized hail began pelting the house. Our deck chairs were blown around. When the rain moved on we decided to bring in the deck furniture because there was another wave of bad weather coming behind the first.
About 6:45 p.m. the electricity went off. We decided to drive out west of town to see if there was any damage out that way while waiting for power to come back on. We saw one house with about half of its roof blown off and lots of tree limbs down. Then a county sheriff's vehicle roared past with its lights flashing. As we got back closer to town we could see a lot of flashing lights on the northwest side of Creston and heard many, many emergency vehicle sirens.
Finally it dawned on us to turn on the car radio to the local broadcast station. That is when we learned that the hospital had been hit by a possible tornado and was being evacuated. We did drive part way down the main east -west street on the north side of town until we had to turn off due to downed power lines and debris. It seemed strange that there were some pockets of lights on in the north side of town where all the damage was and yet the south side which had no damage was in the dark.
When our power came back on shortly before 10 p.m. we began to hear and see what was going on just two miles from us. And I already had a message on Facebook from a class mate in California wanting to know if we were o.k. as well as a phone call from a granddaughter who had been trying frantically to reach us.
I took these pictures today of some of the clean up going on in the area southwest of the hospital. We didn't even try to get any closer to the hospital and the area where the major damage occurred. There are many pictures online on the Des Moines TV stations (KCCI and WHO) and the Des Moines Register and Creston News Advertiser online.
This is one of the large trees in the park a couple blocks north of our house. It is interesting to me that this storm tracked almost exactly where the one did last year. The major difference besides the amount of damage was that it happened so suddenly. The tornado sirens did not even go off. There was no time to prepare. Amazingly there were no fatalities. One official made the statement that if the tornado had been even a half mile further south, it would have been a different story. Because it was on the edge of town, fewer homes were destroyed.
This photo is from the KSIB Radio website. It shows what is left of the home which was completely blown away. This is the photo that made me realize how lucky we were that the tornado was two miles north of us. It is obvious the house which was here was a manufactured home which is what we live in. There is a basement in the mobile home park club house which is where we are supposed to go during a storm. But with no warning, we would never have gotten there.
Lives were not lost, this time. Clean up is well under way. Surely there won't be another tornado in this area for a long time......but just in case, I'm sending my kids a list of the names of our insurance companies as well as our final wishes if there is a next time and we get blown away.
*To complete this Irish saying: "If you're enough lucky to be Irish, you're lucky enough! This time, we were lucky enough.
(Speaking of being Irish, I'm so honored to have a new follower, Catherine from Ireland. Clicking on her picture will link you to her blog, Dispatches from the Deise.)