It came without warning.
Dinner was finished and dishes were done. My boys had just set up their tent to camp out in the backyard. Such a fun adventure for 6 and 8 year old boys.
Our house sits very close to the base of the Alleghany Mountains and usually when storms build up behind them, we can see them building for a while before they finally get enough umph to push them over the top. Most times the rain will look like a waterfall coming over the top of the mountain and we can watch the rain come in. It gives us about 5 minutes warning – enough time to close windows and yank clothes off the line, if you hurry.
The storm on Friday night however. Started as a normal front or rain storm. The wind shifted.
“Sorry, boys, let’s put your tent away so it doesn’t get wet.”
But there was no time for that. The stakes were pulled out of the ground and as I was upstairs closing windows, the sky went from gray to black to green in seconds. We dragged the tent, stakes and all, into the kitchen, finished closing the last of the windows and ran for shelter in the basement.
Did I mention that the sky was green?Those of you who have been in tornado weather know what I’m talking about. The sky looks like it is about to throw up. It’s eery. And the hairs on the back of my neck usually stand tall when it happens.
The wind, oh the wind. Our basement entrance is on the backside of the house and we have to go outside to reach it. Let me just say that it was a scary 2 second run. Branches and leaves were flying and we were pelted with a few drops of hail.
I looked to the northwest and thought I saw something fall from the sky. I dismissed it. Too frightened to dwell on what I hoped was my overactive-lived-in-Texas-most-of-my-life-tornado-scared mind.
The storm lasted for several hours. The kids finally fell asleep on the floor of the basement and we lost power after the first few minutes of arriving there.
I feared for my husband.
We had just spoken briefly on the phone before the storm came over the mountain and he was on his way home from the hayfield at one of our rented farms (about 20 minutes away). There was no sign of anything in the sky when we had talked.
He didn’t make it home until 1 am.
Every road they turned on to get home was blocked by downed power lines, downed trees and flying debris. They (my hubby and 3 of our farm hands) were finally able to take shelter about 5 miles from the farm. When the storm finally passed through, they borrowed a chain saw and at midnight began cutting a swath through trees to reach home.
It never rained. The lightning had only flashed twice and the thunder was virtually non-existent. But the winds were clocked at 80 miles per hour.
Here on the farm, we had twister. It cut a swath right down the middle of our chicken field shelters. Thirty pens and over 400 chickens disappeared. Trees were twisted off at the tops and the barn roof on one section was missing.
Our power finally came back on 18 hours after the storm. We were so grateful to have it back. We’re full-time farmers and our livelihood is inside the freezers here at the farm. We have 2 generators which we were running to pump water to the cows and other animals at rental farms. Here at Polyface, we have ponds on the mountain with water which gravity feeds down to the animals. Power is not necessary.
The heat index has been 105 the last several days. So water and shade is critical for the animals and us.
The generators were not powerful enough to run the walk-in freezers. That will change.
It was a 100-year storm. (one that only comes once every 100 years or so)
But it still didn’t keep us from taking cover again last night when another severe thunderstorm raged through the valley.