Thursday, August 7, 2008

Storm Clean Up

My neighbor Betty was at home alone when Monday evening's storm rolled in. Her husband Ed was on his way home at the time the first gusts hit. Their home sits at a lower elevation than mine and is in a forested area. Many of their trees are 100 years old. Because of the location they do not have a direct line of sight to the horizon and as a result Betty couldn't see the scope of what was approaching from the west.

She did know that the sky was beginning to darken and the wind was picking up. After closing the windows she sat down in her late mother's bedroom and was stunned at the speed and fury of the storm.

Yesterday as Betty recounted her feelings when sitting in her mother's chair I was reminded of a quote I recently came across. It went something like this, "Sometimes the Lord calms the stormy seas, and sometimes the Lord calms the person riding the stormy seas."

The storm was going to play out it's hand and Betty found herself suddenly calm. She remembers saying, "Lord, this is your storm. I'm fine with what you choose to do, but just keep my family safe."

The storm raged and Betty calmly sat and waited. The following morning would reveal an unbelievable scene of destruction. But, it would also reveal a miracle. Every large tree circling the house was damaged, except for two huge oaks that stand within feet of the front porch and back deck. Damage to those trees would have demolished the house. The damage occurred in a concentric circle with the force of the wind twisting the trees out and AWAY from the house.

Here's the effect of the 125 mph wind gust on a large tree.


Here's the scene directly in front of the house.


It's a 2 acre property and the entire property was covered with this debris.


As I mentioned yesterday, I could hear the sound of chain saws first thing in the morning. Word traveled through our neighborhood and people started arriving. Here was the line up:

6 chain saws
2 lawn tractors with pull-behind carts
1 Kubota tractor with front-loader
1 vintage Ford farm tractor with flat bed trailer

The workforce:

Betty & Ed, their two children, their son-in-law and his mother.
Eight neighbors
Neighborhood teens to babysit the younger kids while the adults worked.

In addition to the huge trunks and tree limbs


the entire property was strewn with an enormous amount of twigs, brannches and leaves.


The men worked on cutting the trunks and limbs into manageable pieces, which were then lifted into the Kubota front loader and driven to the back of their property.


The small limbs and branches were loaded into the lawn tractor carts and delivered to the growing brush pile. Two of the women followed up and raked up the smaller debris.


Here's Ed, Chuck and Pat taking a break and discussing their next move.


Work continued on through the day, moving from one area to the next. In the back yard a large limb was hung up in the canopy. This involved some climbing and ropes for safety.

I had to leave when my garden cart suffered a flat tire. The Farmer and I walked up in the evening when he returned home from work and there was not as much as a twig left on the ground. You would have never guessed what it looked like earlier in the day.

I talk a lot about midwesterners and their can-do, true grit attitude. This is an example of that spirit in action. I am amazed at what was accomplished in one day by a committed group of people who pitch in to help their neighbors. At one point during the day we talked about not waiting for the cavalry to arrive. There are brush piles out on the main road waiting for the county to pick them up. Those brush piles have been there for over 6 weeks, so no, we don't wait for someone to "rescue" us.

I'm not good at the math and I can't figure the cubic yards of debris, but the pile was about 10 feet high, 30-40 feet long and 12 feet deep. That's a lot of destruction to deal with in ONE DAY!!

Thanks for your good thoughts and concerned comments. No one was injured, either in the event or the clean-up and for that we are grateful. The most amazing thing? Not ONE WINDOW was broken during all of this.


Kendrawolf said...

If you guys didn't even break one window YOU ARE GOOD!!!

Jackie said...

To not have had windows broken with the force of that wind is amazing.

The cleanup crew are all to be commended for their quick action in helping out neighbors in their time of need. You're the type of neighbors everyone hopes to get when they move to a new home.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

What wonderful friends and neighbors! The destruction was awful, but isn't love in action a beautiful thing? Please thank Betty for allowing you to tell her story.

carolyn at cranberry crossings: said...

That is truly amazing! What wonderful neighbors to come and help one another when needed. It's a shame that most people nowadays do not even care about each other like that.
I am so happy that the house wasn't damaged, but even more glad that nobody was injured.

belladella said...

It warms my heart so much to see how you all came together to help your neighbors. I can't believe what was done in one day!

StitchinByTheLake said...

I think this was what Jesus was talking about when He said Love Your Neighbor. Blessings, marlene

Mary said...

Good Lord! I am truly amazed, not only at the force of the storm, but at the wonderful generosity of you and your neighbors. What an uplifting story! And I am sorry that Betty had to lose such wonderful old trees, but I'm sure that she is thankful to be alive!

A Farmer's Wife said...

This is a wonderful story of service and going the extra mile! I love it! Thank you for sharing!

Louise said...

I like Betty's attitude, and the attitude of all of you that you just clean it up and don't wait to be rescued. If only more people were like that.

That damage was scary stuff!

Chris said...

What a great story! Not only Betty's faith in the storm, but the caring for one another in its aftermath.

Country folk are just the best!


Karen said...

That's amazing that there were no windows broken !!!

Your post highlights one of the reasons we will be living in a rural area, when we move back to NZ. Rural people tend to ave more of a sense of community and neigbourness.

So glad you are all okay!!

Wanita said...

What a wonderful story of God's protection in the storm and of neighbors caring for one another. Thanks for telling us about it.

Mamahut said...

I am glad to hear everyone is OK.

BittersweetPunkin said...

What a wonderful post of neighbors coming together...very touching indeed!!

Lori said...

I am so glad no one was hurt. We live west of you in Northern Illinois so the same beast came through here. You're sure right, the sky color said it all didn't it?

Sweetie said...

It's wonderful how everyone got together and worked as a clean up crew. Your pictures are great and really project the devastation. I enjoyed your entire blog.

Debbie said...

what a wonderful heart warming story. I know you dont know me and i havent commented before but i just wanted to say im glad no one was hurt. :) xx

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

Praising Him for His protection and for the "feet and hands" of love shown by neighbors' actions.


I love the quote about the calm/storm. That made this post so darn strong! So incredible. We are so small compared to nature.

Stubblejumpers Cafe said...

Hi Suzanne,

The Farmer's Wife is the featured blog at Stubblejumpers Cafe this week.


Ritch in Love said...

Oh no. This is such a shame! I'm so glad you have such a close community. That is such a blessing!

Lil_Birdie said...

What great neighbors you live around :) So glad no serious damage was done