Friday, May 6, 2011

April 28, 2011 - what a day

Whenever the phone rings at 2:45 AM you always expect the worst, especially when it's family calling. Caller ID showed my sister's number.

I got that first shot of adrenaline that comes with fearing bad news.

When I answered the line went dead. I immediately called back and got through, but it was a sketchy cell connection. She said "a tornado had come through her back yard" ...static... "sent mike to check on mom & dad" ...more static... "can't get them out" the line went dead.

I got the second shot of adrenaline the comes when your fears are realized.

I handed the phone to Linda so she could try to get them back on the phone while I quickly dressed. I grabbed a handful of flashlights from the nightstand and jumped in the truck and started driving north. Not knowing what I was going to do when I got there, but I was going.

A bit while later I got a text that said they were all ok, that it was pretty bad, and they couldn't get out.

I got as far a exit 26 before I ran into traffic that was stopped on the interstate. I sat there for the next hour watching what seemed like every vehicle in southwest Virginia that had a flashing light pass me heading to Glade Spring. Traffic finally moved about 5:30 and I drove past exit 29, it was still dark so I couldn't see the extent of the damage so I drove on to exit 32 to get to mom's. the farther I got past 29 the better it looked so I was hoping that it had passed them by. There were service trucks blocking Fleet road so I turned up the service road driving toward Glade. My intention was to get to stagecoach road and get into town that way, little did I know that I was driving toward ground zero. I turned around, headed back to exit 32, then drove back to exit 26 and came into Glade up Hillman Highway to my sister's house.

We left her house and went toward mom & dad's, we got as far as the barn at the intersection of Fleet Road and Plum Creek --- the barn had been mostly flattened. It was still a bit to dark to see very far so we parked at the barn and walked in. We literally had to crawl through the downed trees to get up the road to their house. This cellphone picture is from the neighbor's yard early on Thursday. We found mom and my brother out in the yard, talking to the neighbors.

The next picture is the back of the house. Once the initial shock was over and I confirmed everyone was ok, we went inside to assess the damage. The living room was a mess, there was a hole in the bathroom ceiling, but the rest of the house was in surprisingly good shape. There was no way that mom and dad could crawl out through the trees the way the we had come in, but there was already a VDOT tree clearing crew working to clear a path up the road, it would take several hours to get to moms.

My sister and I went back to her house to check on her damage, I patched up a few things, we grabbed some tarps and headed back to moms. This next picture was taken Friday morning as I was coming back to get mom and dad's packed up, it was taken from the crossroad near the flattened barn, you can already see that a lot of work had been done at the house.

The picture at the top is an odd looking panorama taken Saturday morning, even more work clearing trees and securing the house has been done.

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