On Wednesday at about 4:30pm, an hour after I picked up the boys from the bus stop, we started hearing some rain and it quickly turned to hail and the hail just kept getting bigger and bigger. Honestly, some were almost the size of golf balls. I had been in a really bad hail storm in Idaho, so I wasn't very worried. When I was a kid, we used to sit on the porch and watch and listen to the thunder and rain storms. I loved it! At 4:45, Aaron started asking how our weather was. He proceeded to tell me that a tornado touched down right near his work. He said that a co-worker could not even open the door to get out because of the strength of the wind. After the wind and storm had calmed there, another co-worker told him that the tornado was headed for our community of Wilbraham. He then told everyone that he was leaving and told me to take the boys to the basement away from windows. At home, I calmly told the children that we were going to go downstairs because of the storm. The power went out in the middle of all that. My phone battery was low and I couldn't recharge it. I was so worried about Aaron getting home and that I would not be able to talk to him. My fears came to pass. As we hid ourselves in the most central lowest part of the basement, away from the windows, I silently prayed. We huddled up close to eachother and listened to a crank radio, as Sterling cranked. I tried to charge my phone on the battery that was left from the laptop. My phone would come on for a minute or two and I would get a message or two from Aaron, and then I would lose power again. He told me that he couldn't get home, and that there were lots of trees down and roads blocked. He then said that he was headed for Boston Rd. Then I lost him. As we listened to the radio, they said that the tornado was headed for Boston Rd. I cannot even begin to describe the utter panic that welled up inside of me. I tried to control my emotions as much as I could for the boys, but it was too late. So, the boys were beginning to understand the seriousness of the situation from the radio and from me and they cried. I asked Damian to pray. Amazingly calm in that moment, he uttered a simply and faithful prayer to Heavenly Father for our dad and husband. He always is our little spiritual rock in our home. He has great faith in God. After the prayer, my words to them were very optimistic and hopeful, but I couldn't help thinking about all the worst case scenarios. However, I think that my external optimism helped my internal fears subside. At some point I received a message from my phone when it came on briefly saying that Aaron was walking home. That was scary too. He told me that he was down the hill from us and needed me to come get him. That message was sent at 7:40. I got it at 8:40. I got the kids out of their sleeping bags (the tornado warning from the radio was until 9). We ran out the door in the rain to get Aaron. As we drove down the road from our home, there were power lines down and trees down blocking our path. The rain was coming down uncontrollably and I had to turn around. As soon as we got home, I got the kids back down in the basement and started charging my phone in the van. I called my mom and Aaron's mom to see if either of them had heard from him. I assumed though, that his phone battery was dead too. After about 15 or 20 minutes, I saw headlights come up our road. It wasn't our car, but I knew it was him. It was quite the emotional and scary experience. He had been walking about 3 miles, part of which was uphill and climbing over big trees to get home. He hitched a ride with a couple of passerbys. I was so happy to see him.
Our community had a lot of big trees go down and a lot of power lines. There was also a pretty good amount of structural damage. We lost power for a little over 24 hours and didn't have running water either, but we are very grateful to be alive. It was much worse for so many in Springfield and in our community and surrounding communities. I learned a lot of valuable lessons about being prepared. We had some things, but definitely not all the things we needed. I will be making a list of things we thought of having after. I will be posting this soon on our blog, so watch for it.
Here are some photos of during the storm and after:
This is a picture of the Connecticut River being picked up by the tornado. Aaron's office is really close to the river and he saw it go by the Basketball Fame building where he works.
This is a church in Monson. We live on the border of Wilbraham and Monson.
These pictures don't even begin to paint a picture of the devastation in Springfield and the surrounding areas. We are grateful for support from family and friends and pray for those less fortunate than us.