Monday, April 13, 2009

When Tornadoes Strike...

As many of you know by now, We had a SEVERE tornado sweep it's way across Rutherford County, more specifically Murfreesboro on Friday, April 10th. On the news last night they had classified it as an EF-3 with the possiblity of upgrading it to an EF-4. It was 1/4 to 1/2 mile wide It was on the ground from start to finish for about 30 minutes and it's path was an estimated 20 miles or so long...(according to the news last night on channel 4 @ 10:00) They believe this same tornado actually started more south of us and worked it's way up to where it touched down in Murfreesboro. The news stated that 718 homes had been effected, either damaged or destroyed in Murfreesboro alone. About $33.4 million dollars damage. There were at least 3 other EF-1 tornadoes the same day in various surrounding areas.

(image from The Daily News Journal)

On this map, If you follow the road that says W. Northfield Blvd. and go to the 11 o'clock position from the letter N, we are approx. between the NW Broad and Tomahawk Dr bullet markers.

Our day went like this...
I was being lazy listening to an audio book, and the girls were home from school (Good Friday), watching one of their DVDs. I got a few text messages saying We were in a Tornado Watch (nothing spotted but conditions could result in a tornado so be ready). We are often in watches that don't amount to much, but with it looking rather bleak outside, I was at least paying attention to what was going on. About lunch time the wind started getting pretty erratic, I looked out the front door, and saw my girls bikes all over the front lawn. I told them to move them to go gather them up and put them under the car port near the house. Marley saw immediately how serious I was and quickly got her sisters to help her. Within about 10 min.

(12:12pm)I got a string of text messages saying TORNADO WARNING... (the clouds are starting to hook and conditions are perfect for a tornado to touch down.)listing all the involved counties. As SOON as I got the warning text message,I immediately forwarded the message to Mike, who was at work in Franklin, TN. I went in and calmly explained to the girls that I needed to turn off the DVD they were watching and keep an eye on the news. I explained that we were in a tornado warning and that we needed to watch the news for a while to see what was happening. The news had pin pointed where the tornado was supposed to go and according to them it was supposed to go North of us and skip our area. I was a little easier knowing that it wasn't heading right for us. The news would announce an alert live, and then the National Weather Service interrupted after each one. They showed approximate times for when the expected the storm to hit certain areas or streets. None of the streets were close to me so I wasn't worried, just alert. This happened about 3 times in a matter of 15-20 min.

(12:35ish) I notice the wind was getting extra strong and we were hearing some thunder going on around us.

(12:40 pm)I never send my mom alerts about tornado warnings, but for some reason I sent my mom a message letting her know we were in a tornado warning, no problems right now, and that we would keep her updated . Our lights had flickered a bit. Nothing serious, just more reasons to pay attention. Then our power went out.

(12:48 pm) I sent Mike a message, "Power is out now... And it sounds lake a train is coming down the street." I looked at my cell phone to get the time.

(12:50 pm) The house started shaking and the sound of the train got worse. I told the girls to go sit in the hallway, and close the doors . I followed them. Kaleigh doesn't like the idea of tornadoes at all and she was quite panicked. Marley was calm, but I could see worry in her face. Kaleigh suggested that we should say a prayer. I completely agreed, and ask her if she'd like to be the one to say it. She surprised me and said YES with out any hesitation.

(12:55) I get an URGENT weather alert txt message showing winds NE 45 mph. (I didn't need to read it to know it because I could feel it) and one from Mike saying that all the VZW employees in the Boro had been evacuated to the tornado shelter. I decided that my girls needed something to get their mind off the storm so I played an audio book for them for a few minutes. After a minute or two, once the house had stopped shaking so ferociously, (as I had been sitting in the hall I could feel wind rushing under and around the house. It felt like every door and window in the house was open and pushing air through the house...a very creepy feeling) I told the girls to sit still I wanted to go around the house to check the doors and windows because I was just sure the back door was open and blowing straight into the house.... I looked out the South windows...lots of little debris, and to the North, just a few branches lay across the yard. I walked back to the South (front of our house)and peered out the window again, and saw this

(12:56) I took this picture (on the left) with my cell phone of the only damage I could see done to the outside of our house. I only took the picture out the front because it was still extremely windy and the girls were getting nervous that I wasn't with them. Once we all came out of the hallway, I walked out and around the house to survey the damage.

Our lamp post top was blown off, but the wires were still very much attached, and actually the light still works!!!

(1:00 pm) I got pummeled with a ton of text messages that hadn't made it through. Most of them were from Mike. He wanted to know if we were still ok because the last thing he had heard from us was that the power was out etc. The lines were jammed with so many people using them that the messages to some time to get through.

(1:05 pm)I took the picture of our drive way at . The garbage can in this picture is not mine, it belongs to our neighbors just across the street and to the West. It blew up to our house from their driveway.

(1:07) I get a text message saying, "You Safe?" I replied "Yes... who is this?" One of our bishopric members heard that the tornado hit Avon Rd. He knew I lived on Avon Rd. and was concerned and checking up on us. Our hometeacher also made sure he contacted me before and after the tornado to make sure we were prepared and safe. My battery on my phone died shortly after that, so I had plugged it into charge for a few minutes so I could send out the "all clear here" message.

(1:58) I send this message to Mike at work, "OMGsh... We r so lucky. So much happened all around us. Say a prayer of gratitude."

(2:04) I post to Facebook, "I am so grateful to hve come throught the tornado with barely any damage...others in the neighborhood were not so lucky.

(2:17) Mike tells me he's on the phone with a vendor that he works with who is also a storm chaser. And that they were discussing the storm. While he was talking to her, she spotted another tornado in the makings in one of the counties south of us.

(2:27) I send a text to Mike saying We r safe the tornado passed just to the west of our house back by the old wooden barn. (200-300 yds)

(2:33) I get the message that a family in our ward has just lost their house due to the storms.

(2:36) I get a comment asking about a sister in our ward.

(2:47) Text Message from my mom, "How are things looking now?" and my friend Corina saying she had just SEEN the tornado, and that it was close to her house too.

(2:49) Sent my mom the message, "the tornado hit just west of our house behind the barn at the end of the street. We r fine. Not much damage. Power out as well as most cell usage. We r fine."

(2:54) Get a message from a family Mike Hometeaches...They are fine. Also alerting us to the needs of the family in the ward who lost their house, letting us know they were safely out of town on an inspired last minute vacation, and that a some men and women from church were putting a group to go clean up the family's belongings that night.

(2:52) Message from my mom Glad to hear you're ok, it looks like it's about over

I left my phone in the car to charge for some time... and responded to few text messages from family who were concerned about our welfare. I told them We were fine and I'd be more thorough later.

Apparently the tornado had made an unexpected turn and headed our way instead of going farther North as the trackers had predicted, it ended on or near Compton Rd. where a lot of our friends live.

(6:00) I take the girls out to dinner at Wendy's. On our way home we drive through the subdivision to our West (Riverview/Avon) We find Riverview to be UNRECOGNIZABLE! Homes and trees were destroyed left and right. As we left that neighborhood we went up and around to Haynes to come into our neighborhood. I couldn't believe what I saw. Homes without roofs right and left. Houses moved off their foundations. Brick homes that were nothing but rubble. We found out that a young mother and her 9 wk old infant were killed at their house on the corner of Haynes and Sulphur Springs. We went up Sulpher Springs to get back to our house. Nothing but destruction. So sad to see. The girls were reminded of how lucky we were. Kaleigh commented that her prayer worked. It kept our house and family safe. With as close as it was, I don't doubt it.

(7:00 pm)Mike gets home from work grabs a few supplies and heads out to help clean up at our friend's house.

Mike spent all of Saturday doing debris removal in the Regency Park Area (across from where the 2 fatalities occurred). I stayed at home keeping my kids out of the way of our neighbor's clean up and babysitting a little sweetheart so her dad could volunteer his time and efforts to the clean up. He commented to me on the amount of people that 'came out of the woodwork' to help clean up. He also was amazed at the different restaurants or businesses that showed up offering food and drink to the MANY volunteers.

Saturday night we still had no power and had arranged to go clean up for Sunday at the local gym, but found out they were closed, so we went to my visiting teacher's house and got 6 people showered and cleaned up...that includes hair around an hours time. Thanks for allowing us to intrude on your evening!

Our neighbor was kind enough to run an extension cord from his house to our house to power our refrigerator. That saved us from losing a lot of food. Thanks a million!!!

We woke up Sunday morning with no power. Luckily everybody had picked out clothes to wear and knew where they were so getting ready for 9:00 church was easy. It was a great day to be in church and to think about the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and to hear the testimonies of those who had been touched by the weekend's events.

We came home from church to find we still had no power. It was a nice warm day so we spent it outside in the yard. Mike spent some time driving around to check on ward members to check on their damage status, and to see how they were doing personally. Once he got home we stayed outside and picked up the few sticks and branches that had fallen around our yard from the storm. Mike fought the Cedar tree in our back yard and claims he won :) Mike 1 Tree 0.
For dinner we went to the bishop's house and had a nice dinner with our ward family friends. While we were out,(8:00pm) we got the call from our neighbor that our power had been restored. Apparently the power company was baffled as to why we didn't have power either! They found that it was just a small little piece at the top of the power pole that had come off. In a matter of 5 minutes they had popped a replacement piece into place. A few sparks followed and then our house and our neighbor's house lights both came on.

We are glad, grateful, and blessed that our only problem caused by this storm was the power being out. YES it was inconvenient but we'll take that over the alternative.

The home owners came out Saturday to check on us and see how the property fared the storm. We are all very grateful. Kaleigh has a strong faith in prayer. Her seed of a testimony has been planted and is starting to sprout.

If you would like to see any news coverage Fox News and Channel 2 News These channels have some good coverage.

Saturday morning, Mike and I walked around the Riverview neighborhood. We also checked on one of the sisters in the ward to see how she fared. She was lucky! We took some pictures of the destruction we saw...

UPDATES: Tornado reached EF-4 strength with sustained winds near 170 mph.; damage at $33.4M and rising
Two confirmed tornadoes that carved separate paths through Murfreesboro and Rutherford County on Friday caused more than $33 million in damage, affected more
than 700 homes, killed two, and injured more than 50.
a total of 59 homes were totally destroyed, 182 had major damage, 109 had minor damage and 169 others were “affected.”


Stephanie said...

Rachel - I'm so glad you all are okay. Thankfully, I heard from all my Murfreesboro friends and everyone was all right. Here's hoping you all can get a break from the storms soon!

Brian and Jessica said...

I'm so glad you all made it through the tornado safe! I've never seen anything like this. My best friend lost her home. It's heart breaking. Hope you all are doing well!

Deanna said...

Hi, Love your blog!!! I did a write up on you and your tornado ordeal in
Hope you dont mind.

Jared and Emily said...

Holy Cow! man... That i so freaky. I am so glad you guys turned out okay!

TeresaL said...

Wow! I'm so glad you are all okay!