Random Acts of "Kindness"

Posts tagged ‘tornado’

RECOVERY YEAR ONE

Last summer, I wandered the streets and nature trails of Woodhaven Lakes with a great deal of sadness and hope for the future. Most of the shady streets were now bathed in sunshine. Many of the nature trails opened up to bare landscape or fallen — twisted trees. The devastation from the tornado was every where.

A year has passed and the landscape has changed. Most of the tornado damage has been removed — trailers, sheds, porches, decks and trees. The nature trails no longer are bare — wild flowers and other plants have filled up the spaces. Some new trees have been planted.

New trailers, room additions, porches, sheds and decks are every where. Many new trees have been planted on the owners lots. It will be a long time before they provide the missing shade but progress is being made.

It is still very easy to determine what areas have been affected by the tornado. Shade and huge trees are missing. Some huge trees have remained, either because of stronger roots or the direction of the winds so the terrain isn’t bare.

I asked a real estate broker if there had been a large change in the population. Her reply was that although some owners have left, many new people have arrived. They came out to look at the after effects of the tornado, liked what they saw and bought property.

We lost more than nine trees at the front of our lot and many more on the sides and back. We now have sunshine and a new deck with a roof to provide the missing shade. The roof even has a fan to provide some air movement when the breeze is missing. I have to admit that I am spending a lot of time out on the deck.

I didn’t realize how much the tornado had affected me. I had a deep sadness that did not want to lift. It was very hard to explain, in fact I wasn’t even aware that it was there. Now that it has lifted — I DON’T MISS IT. Seeing all the new growth — the new changes must have helped.

Fall has arrived. Soon we will close up the trailer for the winter. Many years ago we spent time at the camper in the winter. Cross country skiing, walks in the high snow, Christmas shopping all were part of our winter. I had a small Christmas tree, wreath and lights to decorate the trailer. We haven’t wandered out there in the winter for years. Wandering in high snow is no longer as easy as it was when I was young. Staying inside, sitting in a warm camper doesn’t have the same draw as when I was younger. Lets not even talk about the ice that forms on the roads over night.

This year the small tree and wreath will stay packed away. We will turn off the heat and winterize. We will bring all the food home. I will admit that I miss the days when we left stuff out for the occasional weekends away.

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ANNIVERSARY

On June 22, 2015 a tornado damaged more than 700 acres at Woodhaven Lakes at 7:50 PM. A double trunk tree fell on our motor home, causing it to be the poster child of the tornado. The picture of the motor home appeared front page on three newspapers and had its own spot on television. We also lost more than nine trees on the front of our lot and more behind. We were fortunate to be home that night. My husband needed a new prescription for his insulin and our doctor was on vacation. When we bought our lot, it was for the shade — now we have sunshine, plenty of it. We have planted five new trees — four survived the winter. Flowers that need the sunshine now have a space in our garden.

We have vacationed at Woodhaven the week of Father’s Day in June for more years than I care to count. My husband has always enjoyed good fishing, summer vacations haven’t really started yet and the campground is quiet. I noticed that the anniversary of the tornado would be that week but didn’t think anything about it. No cause for alarm.

Monday, June 20 had a full strawberry moon on the solstice. It was beautiful. I captured the rising of the moon on my camera. I’ve learned that in olden times, the Native Americans picked strawberries to the light of the moon. I also learned that there wouldn’t be another full moon on the solstice for 50 years. I don’t think I will be around then.

Storms were predicted for June 22. I turned our weather radio on. The weather person explained the meeting of the cold front coming into the area with the warm front and the possibility of tornadoes at the junction. Sadly the junction was in our area. The tornado sirens went off at 7:30 and we moved to a safer place. I stood in the shelter of the comfort station talking to others with my eye on the sky while my husband sat in the car listening to his ham radio with our dog. I will admit that I sent a few prayers up for safety from the storms. Thankfully the tornadoes stayed to the north and south of us. There were four touch downs in our area, 18 tornadoes sighted to the south, four doing significant damage. Security came by to tell us the danger was over.

The question now is — will we be at Woodhaven June 22 in 2017? Time will tell. The weather has become more violent world wide. I miss old fashioned rain.

CHAPLAINS

It will come as no surprise when I admit that I talk to strangers on a regular basis. I just realized that within the past two months, three chaplains have crossed my path. Since June 22 when the tornado descended on Woodhaven Lakes, various teams from the Southern Baptist Disaster Ministry have been on property helping to clear the fallen trees. I have recently learned two interesting facts or theories. The first is that there were two tornadoes interacting over Woodhaven. The first stayed air born and sheared the tops off of trees. The second interacted with the first and jumped across the landscape uprooting trees and causing major destruction. They think anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 trees were affected. I don’t know where these facts are coming from but it does explain the number of trees that are uprooted. It didn’t help that June was a very wet month and the ground was saturated. The help from many people and organizations was desperately needed.

I don’t pay too much attention when something happens one time. The second time the same idea might cause me to pay a little bit more attention but when I notice the third, I wonder. I met the first chaplain soon after we gained admittance to property. A team from Southern Illinois were across from our lot cutting the trees in the little park. I wandered across to talk and learned of their mission. That was my first interaction with a Chaplain, who resides in Springfield, IL. I went to their command post on property, and signed up, requesting their help. The double trunk tree over our motor home required more equipment than the Southern Baptist had with them so we hired a professional team. Once the trees were cut, I went back to control central and asked them to take our request off their stack.

So many people asked for their help that they returned, with different teams a second and third time. I was really surprised when I saw their yellow shirts and equipment when we returned to Woodhaven after our trip to Florida. We still had trees that needed to be cut down, so I returned to Command Central to fill out another form. We have two trees down on our property that have fallen on the lot behind us. I asked the association to phone the owner requesting their permission to cut the fallen trees. Leaving Command Central, I met my second Chaplain. She lives in Sugar Grove, IL. She was part of the team that first assessed our needs, then returned to clear the trees. As she left the campground for the week, I was up at the main gate to say goodbye and thank them for their help.

The last Chaplain I met was from Houston, TX. He said that he was not ordained, and he doesn’t speak at their services. I’m regretting that I didn’t delve into this idea further. I’m sure that he is so glad that he met me since I gave him a new idea — there is life immediately after death, not only for humans, but for animals too. I had already admitted that I argue with God, but never win and walk to a different drummer. He explained that there was nothing in the bible that mentioned animals having a soul, or crossing over . To which I replied that the Bible was written by man inspired by God, but it didn’t contain everything. I mentioned that I had personal experience seeing the spirit of our deceased dog running through our house. With that he asked if he could pray for me.

THREE CHAPLAINS — I wonder, is there more to this than just meeting three Chaplains?

TORNADO UPDATE

TORNADO UPDATE

Entering the gate at Woodhaven Lakes, the world looked normal. Taking the first road to the left, going down the hill, the land looked the same. Turning the curve brought the present. Trees down, trailer’s destroyed or damaged — the destruction that an F2 tornado caused. We found our motor home right away. A double trunk tree fell on top of it, making it the poster child of the tornado. It has been on the front page of two newspapers. Many people stop on their way to take a picture. We got spray paint and wrote bye bye on the door. As I write this, three weeks later, it is still on site. The insurance company has not had it removed even though we have made many phone calls.

We could not see the damage that was done to our park model and room addition until we circled the many fallen trees. We were fortunate, a tree fell on the trailer, landing on the roof over the bathroom but only did minimal damage which my husband was able to patch temporally. Part of our deck was destroyed. A tree hanging by our room addition stopped before doing damage. I’m still not sure how many trees we lost. Our lot used to be shady, that has changed. Thanks to our children and their spouses, most of the downed trees and branches have been cleaned up.

We had to get professional help for the tree on the motor home. If the motor home was pulled out with the tree on it, it would have damaged the electric box. Thankfully the professionals knew what they were doing and although expensive, it was money well spent. I can’t praise Foremost and Farmers Insurance enough. They were on property and quickly appraised the damage. An important item is that they plan to continue to insure property at Woodhaven Lakes. I have heard that is not the same for all the insurance companies. I’m not happy with the company that insured our motor home. Although I’m tempted to name them, I’ll abstain at this time.

The southern half of the park — over 700 acres — was damaged. Three sections were completely closed except to property owners who were guided on site. Just recently I was able to tour those areas — all I can say is that it is heartbreaking. We were extremely lucky. We are able to stay, comfortably on site. My birdbath was undamaged, even though a tree fell on either side. My shepherd statue laid on its side but was undamaged. A little boy angel, holding a puppy, surrounded by green fallen evergreen, peaked his head up from the branches but was undamaged and our statue of Our Lady was in an undisturbed area. The antenna for the TV is still standing.

The employees of Woodhaven Lakes can not be thanked enough. The little park across the street, although damaged, has had the fallen trees removed. Although most of the equipment was damaged, kids can safely play on the remaining swings. As I write this, work is progressing to clear the nature trails of fallen trees. Many volunteers have come to help, as well as volunteers whose property was untouched. It will be a long time before most of the damage from the tornado will be removed. It will be a longer time before new trees are planted and grow.

Thankfully there were no fatalities the night of the tornado and just a few minor injuries.

Sadly, the aftermath of the tornado will cause many people to abandon their property. God and his angels were very busy that night. They still are very busy helping as people work to clear their property of damage. I have heard and experienced too many signs of angels at work to list them. THANK YOU!

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