We knew we would get some pretty good storms that day and possibly a tornado. The weather was windy and dark from the start. Around 11 am I thought I better put the bottles on to warm in case the electricity goes out. We carried the girls outside to see the crazy weather rolling in and play with Sophie a bit. They loved the wind blowing. It was fun. We went back inside because we could see the lightening over the trees. I was playing with the girls on the floor and Jared went back outside to take pictures. At 1130 I could hear..... nothing..... silence. But the coloring was off. Green. I had seen it before. And lightening was everywhere. I told Jared to get back in the house. From the window we watched. Then, you could see it. You could see the black spot behind the trees. Jared said, I think we need to get into the hallway. Then you could hear it, the hail, mother natures last warning that a tornado is eminent. I said, yep its here. Jared grabbed two babies. I grabbed the other and sophie and ran into our hallway. Lights went out. Sophie was freaking out but the girls were more confused than anything. You knew exactly when it was here. The pressure in the air changed. Even though every window was shut and the doors were closed, wind came gushing under the doorway. It was cold. The hail sounded like a hundred men with nail guns on our roof. The wind noise was like being surrounded by those huge fans you hear in gyms. I started questioning if we picked the safest place in the house. Jared must have too cause he suggested we run to the half bath in my parents hallway. I agreed and we picked up our most precious possessions and made a run for it. Closed the door and played patty cake with the girls......... It was over.
It was almost exhilarating. Jared's first tornado. Gives you an adrenaline rush. Then we looked outside. Our patio furniture (heavy iron) knocked over. Trees completely uprooted. People's random things in our yard. And that was just 1130 am.
Electricity still out. My parents came home at 400 pm. It had been raining on and off. Mom says, its no where near over. She was right. You could hear the tornado sirens going off at different times throughout the day. Turns out those were all tornados near the area. Dad and Jared were outside surveying the sky and boiling water to warm the bottles on the grill. Mom and I were grumbling about how we would probably miss American Idol tonight. The sirens go off again. You could see it. You could hear it. Another one was here. We grabbed the girls, blankets, pillows, and put on our shoes (always put your shoes on, you could be walking on glass when its over.) All 8 of us (sophie included) huddled into the tiny half bath. Dad said, if the roof goes put the girls on the floor and huddle over them. It was the first time I have ever seriously panicked about having three babies and only one of me. I didn't have enough arms to hold onto them. Luckily, this one didn't sound as bad as the first. But the damage was clear. More trees gone. Shingles from roofs falling from the sky. Telephone lines down. And that was only the second one.
We barely got our bearings from the second one when the radio (battery operated) was telling about yet another one heading toward Limestone County. This one was two little cells that formed into a "supercell." It will be a big one. 600 pm. We saw this one forming. From a very short distance you could see debris whirling around in mid air. Huge, heavy things that looked like bits of roof and walls. Dad came running inside saying Its here! Again to the bathroom. This one was the worst. Our home withstood the insane punishment. I held my baby tight and prayed.... It was over. This one landed less than 1/2 a mile from our home. The tree line was cut in half. Entire subdivisions and neighborhoods disappeared. Trees on top of neighbors' roofs. There were no words.
The tornados were gone; it was completely black. The stars were out so bright that night though. You could hear chainsaws everywhere. People trying to claim back what was left of their home. Ambulance sirens. Police sirens. The mass devastation was palpable. The next day we were able to survey our own damage to our home.... Nothing. Not one shingle was missing. >Humbled Silence< Not one window was broken. It was a miracle. Nothing short of a miracle. Just a block from our home was an entire neighborhood that no longer exists. Its just gone. Alabama lost over 250 people that day. Looking around at entire homes that vanished, its obvious that if the last tornado had shifted its tracks even the tiniest bit, that humble little bathroom we hunkered in wouldn't have had a prayer. My family was protected that day. My home was too. We still don't have power. But thanks to our amazing family in Georgia we were able to get a hold of a generator (yes we had to go to Georgia to get one. There are none left in Alabama or Tennessee). So we have hot water, lights, even tv if you can believe it. But just look out the window and you can see my neighbors still trying to literally find and pick up their lives. Its truly humbling.
If you get NOTHING ELSE from this post! Please! please! please! get prepared! Start getting your food storage. Start stocking up on things like toilet paper, paper towels, water, propane ovens, ect ect. Because you cant get your hands on those things when the devastation hits. I promise you that. It will happen again. To someone. Be prepared. Get prepared!