This week I'm 100% thankful we're alive and that we've been fortunate enough to be spared in the recent Dallas/Fort Worth storms that hit this past Tuesday.
Who knew we'd survive our 4 days of driving only to come home and be threatened by tornados! (That's related to a post coming on Sunday...look for it and maybe you'll chuckle - it really is kind of funny).
If you haven't yet heard of the DFW area tornados that hit on Tuesday, take a look here and here (scroll all the way down). I've honestly never seen anything like this so close to home. I grew up in a Tornado-free area and only have lived here as an adult, but even my friends who've lived here their whole lives don't remember seeing anything like this before. I hear stories of "the fort worth" tornado and with all the coverage this week they've mentioned a 1994 event and something in the 60s/70s, but that is how rare this type of any outbreak appears to be.
I work in a skyscraper downtown but live in the suburbs/rural area. Sometime after 1pm I started hearing the sirens outside, which was somewhat odd because to that point the forecasters had said we'd have storms in the afternoon but tornados were unlikely. I was working, not watching the news, so the sirens caught me off-guard. During storm season they typically test the sirens on Wednesdays at noon, so at first I caught myself thinking it was just a test but quickly realized it wasn't. After investigating a bit I ended up getting some lunch and then watching the tornado hit the Lancaster area live on tv. This storm was close enough to where I work and headed in that direction - that is what was causing the sirens. We watched as it picked up semis like trucks and threw them all over the place. It was surreal.
Only a few minutes later the building required everyone to evacuate to the stairwells for precaution. Everyone did so quickly, something I was impressed with, and then we sat in the stairwells connected to smart phones and tablets trying to watch what was going on. Initially that storm appeared to be heading a bit north east and so I was concerned but not fearful. I texted my hubby to get up and pay attention to the news, just in case he was ignoring the warnings thinking it was a false alarm.
As we stood in the stairwell it became more apparent that the storm was headed directly over my kids school(s) and my home. I mean directly - there couldn't have been a more direct path. Then I was fearful and it was one of the worst feelings. I was watching a violent storm known to throw big rigs around with what seemed no effort head directly for my family and I couldn't do anything to save them other than pray. I couldn't go be with them. I couldn't get to them at all - at this point the storm was between my kids and I - and I didn't know if my husband was taking this seriously at all. Eventually he let mie know that he was on his way to pick up our forever kids at their school. Their school is GREAT but the one thing it lacks is a great safe place for the kiddos. The fosters attend a different school and have a better safe area so we were less worried about them at the time. As it turns out, my husband was able to get to the kids but not leave with them because of the approaching storm. At least I knew he was there with them.
We were let out of the stairwell after a while and allowed to return to our desks. Of course all I could do was watch the news to see how the storm was progressing. The satellite tv in our break room eventually went out - right before they said a tornado was touching down in the city where my kids go to school.
It was 30 minutes or so before I was able to speak to my husband. He said the storm still hadn't arrived and he was able to bring the kids home. He wanted mie to come home right away but as I looked outside it was pitch black with another storm cell coming through. Nevertheless, he was watching the news and it didn't say there was any danger near mie and the sky was getting less-black so I headed home. A few minutes later, as I suspected would happen - the storm sirens were going off all around mie and there were tornado warnings to my north, east, south, and west. Where I was at the time was clear and I couldn't visibly see any tornadoes but I could hear the sirens all around mie and see the storms surrounding mie. All this while the first storm was still hitting my home area.
As it turns out, the tornadoes around mie while I was headed home was part of the storm that produced the largest tornado (in Forney - an EF3). This storm passed directly over us as well but we were on the west side of the storm and the tornados were in the center to east sides of the storm. This means we got rain, wind, and a little bit of hail but not the tornados. The original storm that produced the tornado in Lancaster did indeed pass over our home as well but there were no touch downs as it did. All in all there were 2 large tornados within 5 miles or so of my home.
As the storms cleared and the damage was readily visible it became apparent how very fortunate we were. Our area had minor flooding and some minor debris associated with small branches and trash but many, many families were left with homes that were completely destroyed and uninhabitable. The devastation is nothing like it was last year in Joplin, MO or other places that saw major storms but to those people who lost their homes I know that it feels as devastating. Areas are under curfew to keep looters away and maintain safety, but really I'm not certain how much of a risk looters really are at this point. It has been the most amazing thing to first know that no one was killed but also to see the reactions of our area. Those directly affected have been expressing their gratitude, not their despair, realizing they were protected by God from further damage. People not directly affected have mobilized like nothing I've ever seen to help their (distant) neighbors in need with supplies and labor. I am so blessed to be able to witness this outpouring of love and generosity.
Furthermore - everyone I know felt great love from family and friends who called, texted, and posted messages on facebook checking on us. Personally I had several relatives and friends text and post on facebook. I even have a bloggy friend who emailed mie because she knew I was in the area and wanted to check on mie. I am so thankful for this person in particular - she is a woman of faith and caught mie as the satellite went down and I knew the storms were touching down on top of my husband and kids. She prayed for us, people she has never met and doesn't know other than through this blog and a few email exchanges and I can't tell you how much this gave mie peace. And apparently her prayers, ours, and those of others worked as we were spared destruction that is so prevalent nearby.
So today I'm grateful. Last night my hubby started griping a bit at having to walk further down the hall to pick up our son at church. Then we reminded ourselves that we have a safe, warm home to go home to and we are all alive and together - then we were grateful for our ability to walk those few extra yards to see our son's sweet smile.