We're not in Kansas anymore...



A couple of days ago I lay alone peacefully floating in the pool, the children had been banished for "break time" and all surrounding noise was muted. I gazed up into a clear blue sky cradled by cool water. Nothing could have been more serene or peaceful. It was hard to imagine that less then a week earlier that same sky had been the scene of forbidding black clouds, seemingly ceaseless lightning and deadly tornadoes.

Last Saturday night Aaron and I turned on the TV on a whim to see what was on. We found nothing but weather on all of our local channels. We watched in disbelief as the scene unfolded. Tornado watches turned into warnings and then reports of devastating destruction and even deaths. Weathermen were animated, then concerned, then even a little tearful. We were dumbfounded. This was really happening. Outside our windows there was some thunder and a stiff breeze but nothing more.

I did not grow up with tornadoes. One would assume that this would make me extra cautious about them but since living here we have not encountered any really close tornado calls. Generally when the sirens go off our most extreme action is to meander our way over for some social time in the Richardson's basement. (We have our own unfinished basement but since it was once the home of a mouse I have vowed not to go down there unless I see a tornado coming down our road). I find that the weathermen tend to be a little overblown about potential risks and weather drama so I have learned to take them with a handful of salt.

But now, suddenly it was real and it was relatively close by, it was supposedly hitting areas where we had friends and church family, and it was possibly heading our way. Aaron and I remained glued to the TV until about 2:00am. By this point we had ascertained that our immediate area was going to be spared the worst of it, and we decided to retire to bed since 8am and it's accompanying need to get cranky children into church clothes comes early.

I had juuuuust drifted off to sleep when I heard the eerie wail of the sirens. This kicked in my instinct to a)panic b)punch Aaron awake c)jump out of bed and proceed to get dressed in an array of unsuitable outfits as Aaron sat in bed looking bemused. In between various quick changes ranging from a negligee to a snowsuit, I breathlessly told Aaron that it was very important to be wearing clothes at times like these. My thoughts then turned to Amy who was sans hubby (and I was certain) was FAH-REAKING out. I rushed downstairs to call her. She answered with a very sleepy, "hello?" Apparently she had not been fah-reaking out or even freaking out. She had been sleeping. Lucky fish.

I babbled to her about tornadoes and schools getting blown down, people getting sucked out of their cars and sirens going off and..and.. hadn't she heard??? She answered all this with a single sleepy question: "What will we wear?". It was only about 12 hours later that I reflected on this and found it hilarious, because at the time I was all..." I KNOW! Right???" No wonder we are such good friends.

It turned out, to my profound relief to be a false alarm for our area, but others were not nearly as blessed. The high-school where our lovely Bishop teaches has been declared a total loss, 12 hours before graduation ceremonies were to be held there. The High-school Valedictorian lost her father in the storm. A mother running for shelter at the police station was just able to pass her baby off to an officer when she was sucked up by a tornado and killed.

Earlier that evening we had been hanging out with friends, our children had been playing outside. I am sure the same was true for all of these folks. Graduation parties were going on, people were driving home from Target, people were watching TV, taking showers.... Within literally minutes everything changed. It is a stunning, sobering reminder of how fragile and temporary things like homes, possessions and even our lives on this Earth are. It's a reminder to invest our time and our passion in what we can take with us. It's also a reminder of the importance and beauty of community and compassion.

These things are real. And indestructible.

The communities involved in this disaster and all those surrounding them have banded together and rallied. It has been heartwarming. Aaron is helping with the clean-up effort today. The kids begged to go but the work is too dangerous at this time. I know they are deeply moved by seeing the destruction of homes and a school just like theirs and knowing it could just as easily have been any of us. Mother Nature is the great equalizer.

Please pray for the families who lost their loved ones, their homes and their livelihood. Here are some more photos. They are heart-wrenching and incredible.

( Below the clip is a link to donate. The student who put this video together nominated Lake High for the Extreme Makeover show..I'm not sure if one can vote for these things but if you can...please do).

I'm reading: We're not in Kansas anymore...Tweet this!

8 comments:

Redbonegirl97 said...

My niece lives in an apartment up there and we were worried about her but she was ok. I wish she would move back to Akron.

Peace, Love and Chocolate
Tiffany

Anonymous said...

Great blog Kirsty...I can hear you and Amy in your dialogue...

joan moon said...

Kirsty...great blog...I thought I already submitted a comment but am having a little trouble with correct info...blah, blah...anyway love your writing. BTW...many hits to my site. Who won the CD?

Erin said...

I saw this on the news and my heart was immediatley heavy for those families who lost homes, schools and (worst) family members. I am so glad your family and immediate area was spared from the damage. The whole country is praying for your recovery and the rebuilding process.
Praying...
Erin

biguglymandoll said...

Kirsty, well said. I spent 5 of my formative and young years in Omaha, Nebraska, and the tornado sirens never really left the back echos of my mind. SOBUMD found this out when we were house hunting; we'd walked around a nice place for a bit and I realized there was NO BASEMENT. She didn't understand why I was just walking out - obviously you'd never buy a place with no basement; what would you do during a tornado? She thought I was kidding. ;-)
My heart goes out to the people who lived through it and lost loved ones; twisters are strange, strange and capricious things, the epitome of Colridge's description of Nature being red in tooth and claw. And sometimes in cloud.

chacha said...

Tornados are scary!! I'm glad you guys were spared - the destruction they leave is insane. It's a narrow path it weaves but it just flattens whatever is there. There's no in between.

Jessica said...

Oh how very scary, Kirsty. My prayers are with all who suffered a lost...I truly can't imagine the fear that you felt. Mother Nature can be so scary...

Tooj said...

I've grown up with these things, being from Kansas....and while they're a little exciting to watch on television and be amazed at their force....the destruction they can do is equally powerful.

Such a shame how quickly they can wipe something out and affect your life. I'm happy to hear you were all safe and sound. I just hope next time you have an emergency outfit laid out.