Saturday Excitement

Remember how my eldest daughter likes storms? Remember how she was asking for some “exciting weather” on Saturday afternoon? Believe me… she got it. At least, WE got it.

This is a picture taken of the tornado that touched down northeast of us. Someone took this picture from the northest suburb of Ames. The tornado started there and touched down several places on the way through the little burg of Gilbert that is northeast of Ames. I heard a short time ago that there was a house destroyed, but no lives lost. There were several sheds lost and some power lines down and some grain bins damaged, but it could have been much, much worse.

In fact, there were a couple of other little towns here in central Iowa that got hit with F-3 tornadoes. Woodward and Stratford. They had some major damage, and I heard an 80-year-old woman was crushed in her basement in Stratford. Last night they were evacuating lots of Stratford due to so many houses being knocked off their foundations and gas leaks being prevalent.

My story? I got off work at noon and went to to Critterland with a friend – about 40 miles away. It was raining off and on, but nothing bad. Hubby kept saying he was hearing “the worst is yet to come”. Home by 4 o’clock, I got a call from Hubby a bit before 5 saying he needed a ride from the shop to the field where his pickup was. It was still cloudy and spitting rain, but no big deal. I went and picked him up, then remembered we were about out of milk… let’s go to Gilbert to the Caseys’ and get some. We drove up, got our milk, and I took him a short ways to get his truck.

As we were leaving Casey’s, our youngest son called to say he was out of town and he’d just heard we were under a tornado warning… there was one heading for Gilbert… could we stop by his house and make sure stuff was put away and doors closed, etc.

It started pouring. I mean, really dumping. We were heading to our son’s house – just a couple of miles from ours. I could barely see when it started hailing… oh, no! I tried to call Hubby to tell him to stop at some friends’ he would be going by – to put his pickup inside so he wouldn’t get dents. No luck. His phone was busy.

I went about a mile through the hail. The wind was blowing. My truck was rocking. I had the radio on and it suddenly came on that there was a confirmed tornado northeast of Ames, moving northeast at 33 mph heading right for the small towns of McCallsburg and Roland… right toward our eldest daughter!

I get on the phone to call my eldest. “Are you in the basement?”. “No”, she replied. She hadn’t heard the weather. I told her she was under a tornado warning – or soon would be. I hung up and focused on my driving.

I’m coming up a big hill near my son’s house. I come out of the heavy rain and hail and look to the east… OMG… it’s a tornado! Across the field, I see this rope-like tornado… on the ground… the first I’ve ever seen “live”. I’m driving and watching – only a few feet more to my son’s. I pull in the drive and a couple of his friends are there in the yard watching the same thing. It was on the ground a short time, then bounced back up, then came back down a couple of times. Wow. Just wow.

Hubby comes up behind. He’d been witness to a F-5 tornado back in the 1970’s that took out a small down in our area and had done tons of damage. He says, “that wasn’t much of a tornado”… but it was enough to scare the poo out of those boys and I!!

What do we do? Why, what every good Iowan does… load all up in the pickup and start driving around to see what damage has been done – and to be sure all our stuff is okay. Don’t ask. I don’t know if it’s just an Iowan thing, a farmer thing, or our family’s thing, but it’s one of those things we do. Ask Em. She remembers. From the amount of traffic on the road, I would guess that we are not the only ones.

We see some sheriff cars, lights blazing, come screaming past us… but we are cool, we don’t follow. We just drive around and check out our own. We didn’t see anything at that time, but Hubby and the “farmer’s network” were on the phonelines as soon as we got home and then the damage reports started coming in. Some folks we knew lost sheds, power lines down, and the biggest shock of all – the tornado had gone right past the Casey’s about 5 minutes after we’d been there. If … if… you think… geez… if I’d stumbled around and gotten something besides the milk… if… we could have been right in the middle of that. Mind-boggling. Seriously.

Today was clean-up for some. The wind has still been gusting to 50-some mph today, so it was pretty difficult to clean up. I think most will be done tomorrow. I know they were working on getting the power lines back up in Gilbert, and you couldn’t get through from one side to the other. The towns of Woodward and Stratford were much, much worse… but for us? It doesn’t seem so real to just see the video on tv. It’s real when you see it in your own ‘backyard’.

It’s November. This isn’t tornado season. This is very weird. It was interesting to see. Now I can check that off my “to do before I die” list… and move on. No more. Thank goodness it wasn’t worse. Manda? Be careful what you wish for…