Wednesday, February 5, 2020

I Survived a Tornado

Last summer we got hit by an actual tornado. On the Cape. Not in Iowa. On the Cape. It was such a crazy, freak thing. It happened on Tuesday, July 23rd in the late morning and it seemed to come out of nowhere. I'm a person who follows the weather closely and prepares for emergencies so it was even more ironic that things happened the way they did. This is what happened...


The night before, there was a tornado warning for that night. My phone did the emergency beeping thing that startled the heck out of me, and the satellite TV stopped working for awhile. Other than that, there was no tornado and it didn't really even seem to get that stormy out.  

The next morning it was overcast and there was rain in the forecast, but there wasn't even a tornado watch out. So I left the boys at home and went out to do some shopping. There's no way I would have been out running errands if there was any indication that there was a chance of tornadoes. But there was nothing, so out I went. To be honest, I'm kind of ticked at the weather people for completely missing the ball on this, and I'm puzzled why there hasn't been more of an uproar about it. 

As I was driving home from my errands, the rain and wind were picking up, and by the time I turned onto my street, they were very strong. I pulled into my driveway and decided to wait a minute before going in until the rain died down. Literally seconds later, a huge branch crashed onto the windshield, cracking it up and causing an interior panel to come crashing down. Now THAT startled the heck out of me. I was so lucky not to get injured by any of that. I still didn't realize that I was in the midst of a passing tornado. I quickly exited the car and ran inside. I'd left the windows in the house open that morning so the kitchen floor was all wet from the rain blowing in. The boys were fine and only knew something had happened because the power went out. 

After a minute the rain and wind died down. I was shocked when I looked outside and saw the damage. First, there was the unfortunate situation of my car. If there had to be a casualty I'm glad it was the car and not one of us or the house. But still! I was now on my own without a car.

I'm glad the windshield didn't completely break or I could have really gotten hurt.

SOS---yeah, you think!? Not that it would have done much good!

In the backyard, one of our big trees had come all the way down and landed on the patio table. The table survived, the table's umbrella did not, and one of the chairs got a little bent out of shape.

The top half of another tree had come down and I'm so glad the whole thing didn't fall over or it would have hit the house.

Big limbs and branches from other trees came down too. Yet the backyard chairs didn't move an inch. I guess the fence protected them from the wind.

I was a little bit in shock and needed to calm down, and I wanted to get out and talk to neighbors and assess the damage, so the boys and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. I think it was safe to do because there were no downed power lines. Everyone else was pretty shocked too. The damage was widespread. 

This is the street that goes down to the beach. 

This car was in trouble too, but I don't think it sustained the un-driveable damage that my car got. Obviously it wasn't driveable in that state but once the trees were removed it was okay.

Across the street from our house (this was a couple of days later).

One of the neighbors told us that the roof had blown off of a nearby motel, so we walked over there. I had driven by this motel on my way home right before this happened to it. It's only a few minutes' walk from our house. A whole section of the roof blew away! Thankfully no one was hurt.

A little advanced warning would have been nice, meteorologists. 😠

Then we returned to our powerless house. I took the groceries out of my damaged car and put them away. I cleaned up the kitchen. I called Peter, my mom, and the insurance companies for the car and the yard damage. It was a version of life going on after getting hit by a tornado. It was weird!

The tornado warning notifications came pouring in AFTER the tornado had hit. I'm still angry about this. What good is this kind of technology if it doesn't even warn you in time?

My mom came and helped that day and stayed for the rest of the week, which was a relief and we now had a way to get around. The power didn't come back on until the next afternoon. I was very fortunate to find a nice guy who took care of the downed trees that week, too. That kind of work was in high demand after the tornadoes hit, so I really was lucky to get him when I did.

We decided to have the huge tree by the patio completely cut down. It's the tree that had the big branch that fell on my car. It had other heavy branches, some of them over the house, and one of them was just dangling there after the tornado, so it was time for it to go. I hate to cut down trees, but this time it was good riddance.

This was the tree. See the big branch just hanging there from the storm? So dangerous. I couldn't rent the house to anyone knowing that kind of danger was there. 

So goodbye tree!

We saw damage from the tornado for the rest of our time on the Cape that month. It was pretty bad in some places. The news of course covered it too.
This was the tornado that hit my neighborhood. I can't believe it was only an EF-1. It's horrifying to think of what a more powerful one would have done. My heart goes out to people who have dealt with worse. 

There was another tornado in Harwich, a few towns away.

This was the path. Our house is down right by where the red path takes an angle.

Then a few days later it was determined that there was a third tornado. This is actual footage of the roof blowing off the motel near our house.

An assessor came out for the car, and it was towed to an auto body repair shop near my actual home 90 minutes away because it wasn't going to be repaired until after we'd returned home from the Cape. So I had to drive a rental for a few weeks. I also had to spend a day driving off the Cape to the auto body shop to sign papers and then drive back in Friday afternoon traffic. NOT FUN! 

This tornado was so crazy, but it could have been much worse, for me and for a lot of people. No one was killed and there were hardly any injuries reported. Aside from the Cape Sands Inn, the damage was mostly tree-related, and the vast majority of it didn't even hit houses and buildings.  
I can now genuinely say that I've survived a tornado! And I hope never to survive a tornado again. Wait a minute...😄. You know what I mean!