Considering that I hadn't taken a vacation in ten years since that is something a contractor can rarely afford because days off are unpaid I decided I had enough money to take a little time off before getting back to the grindstone. So I took the entire month off. I decided that in this new era of my life I would do all those 'one of these days Imagonna's" things so I opened a Cafe-Express T-Shirt Shop, I moved this blog to the new blogger design, I paved an area out front where the water hose is all in January. I was staying active, losing wieght and feeling great so I continued my efforts.
I calculated I could probably afford to I build a deck extension off of my porch so I began that. My goal was to get all of this done by my birthday, May 5 when my peonies bloom. It was a goal I achieved and after all that time and effort here was the result:
This was my own little personal space where I could sit under the stars at night and was well shaded throughout the day. I also built a shield over my peonies to try and get another week or two from the blooms:
Other than owing taxes all was right with the world. I had managed to drop my weight down to about 250 which wasn't great but better than the 268 I weighed in January.
Then came May 10, 2010. In less than 8 seconds all that I had done was destroyed.
Living in Oklahoma you just gain a sense of ominous atmospheric conditions. I think it was a common sentiment that something 'not good' was going to happen that day. The day before was almost cold but by the next day the temperature would rise 20 degrees. The morning began cool and extremely humid. I spent the day 'battening down the hatches' around the yard. By late afternoon the humid was sweltering and I was laboring to breathe as sweat dripped from my body as I put the finishing touches to getting lawn furniture, tools and plants put away. Around 5:00 PM the storms began to roll and I turned my attention to weather information on the TV and Internet.
I live in a small town that had never been hit by a tornado.. until this day. A friend called and told me the tornado was coming right down highway 9 that I live on but I was already watching the path to determine when to bail out to the shelter. I had all three of my cats 'The Girls' inside as I monitored the action.
Here's what happened next. I was checking one last time before running over to my neighbor's storm shelter.
( NSFW - Strong Language Warning ) Some people may be offended by my succinct yet adequately expressive of the emotions I was feeling as my life was being demolished. If you can get past this then crank the volume to hear what I heard and imagine the sweltering humidity.
I climbed out through the branches and checked all of my neighbors who were all fine. These shots are the aftermath:
My front yard.
One of my former trees.
I was more fortunate than some down the street.
The deck I had built.
Because the tornado hit in the early evening that wasn't much that could be done as far as digging out. By the time it a friend got a chainsaw out to me it was dark. The tornadoes had ripped and torn their way all the way down Hwy 9 and I-40 from Oklahoma City East about 60 miles so it took a while for him to get here and navigate the gawkers who were converging like vultures on the kill.
The next day I began cutting away the limbs from the carport an driveway to establish mobility. Then I began to clear the tree from my front door:
The first week were sunrise to sunset debris removal with the goal of being getting as much wood as possible to the curb for the cleanup. Though it was just a week it seemed like forever. But in retrospect recovery of basic needs happened rapidly. By Wednesday the power folks were already laying out new poles. By Friday they were all erected and power restored.
I continued to cut wood. mostly by myself and had some friends come out the following Saturday to make on big push to get the trees behind the house to the curb for the cleanup that would begin Monday the 24th. We made it and here was the result of that effort:
From this side that pile is about 5-6 feet tall. From the street it is about 8 feet tall.
Tomorrow I will post my account of the aftermath dealing with insurance companies, FEMA, adjustors and roofers. But before I quit this post here are a few photos the first ones being taken of the tornado itself.
One block away.
two blocks away