Archive: July, 2006

The weekend rocks when you’re at home

After a week away from home, it’s nice to be back. There are still problems. For example you can see through the soffit to the sky, and there appears to be a leak above our door all of a sudden.

Fortunately State Farm has been great since they actually called me back. They haven’t given any static to us about all the issues and damages except they think that my home was livable with only running water. No A/C, no ability to cool food or cook food, no hot water, no lights, but yet they expected us to live here.

That part bugs me, but otherwise they have been very accomodating.

Let there be light… (Said the lineman)

Well, our power is now reconnected. After the still-unknown person came by and fixed our meter loop mast, Ameren sent “Henkel & McCoy” to reconnect the line to the house.

Those poor guys are working 18+ hours per day, and they were still very nice. We joked around a bit while they connected the wiring and one of the guys told me some stories about his experiences. One time he said after hurricane Rita they had to live in their trucks for a week. Then after hurricane Katrina they lived in the trucks for 3 weeks.

I’ve been “roughing it” at my in-laws for a week and thought that was tough (not really). I cannot imagine having to live in a vehicle for 3 weeks far away from home. He said he rarely gets to see his daughter during times like this, and that has to be tough. As much as I complain about Erich and Amaya bugging me, I sure do miss them when they’re not around.

This is my big THANK YOU to all of you linemen, firemen, policemen, and everyone else who have and will help us through this rough spot.

Photos of our great linemen.

Images from Hurricane “Southern Illinois”

I now have images posted on Flickr for all you kids to enjoy. They are the best ones I have at this time. There are many others on one of my phones and on Josh’s camera, but they’re not here yet. As soon as I have them I’ll update.

In my opinion, these photos do not demonstrate how horrible this situation was nor how HUGE these trees were, but they will have to do for now.

The Aftermath of Hurricane “Southern Illinois”

My last post will inform you of my ordeal during the storm-to-be-named, now the aftermath.

Shortly after the storm everyone here at work was admiring the damage done so quickly and presumably thankful they were okay. We rescued some inventory from the flooded stockroom, and I finally ate my cold, wet, Monster burger with equally cold and wet curly fries.

I tried repeatedly to call and SMS Emily, but of course the system was inundated by everyone else doing the same thing. Since I work for the company I just kept re-sending and redialing. There’s not much else you can do in that type of situation.

The call came through – Emily. My heart lept for joy, but then all I heard was silence. I don’t know if anyone reading this can appreciate the fear and horror going through my mind at that time. I had spent so much time trying to reach her, and then when she gets through to me all I get is silence. She and the kids had been on the way to daycare and she to work. My worst fear was that she was trying to reach me for help, and couldn’t speak or something. Also the thought ran through my mind that maybe the kids had dialed me. They can’t operate a phone well at 5 and 4, but they do call me from time to time with mommy’s phone.

The 20 minutes until I reached my wife on the other end of the line was the worst 20 minutes of my life. You never truly realize how important your other half and your children are until they’re threatened. Now on the line successfully, “There are trees on our house, please come home.”

At that point I told my superior that there were “trees on my house, I’m leaving”, and bailed out of the office sad but overjoyed. My house might be destroyed, but my family is at least reasonably okay.

Traffic was horrible given that there was no power at the stoplights and emergency vehicles were going every direction. Still I managed to get to my neighborhood. Once within a block I was turned back on 3 sides by downed wires or trees. Finally at my house Emily was there talking to the neighbor and observing the 2 massive trees that had provided us shade now on our house and across the street.

I parked on the street and grabbed my wife and hugged her like never before. Apparently while she was going to the daycare she had almost made it when conditions became undrivable. She had pulled into the church up the road, told the kids to take off their seatbelts, count to 3 and run to the building. They did, and once it was past the daycare called and picked up the kids and took them to a safe building. Emily then made it back to town and she called to tell me about the two downed trees.

The next hour or so we spent surveying the damage, being thankful we were alive, checking on her mother and calling other family, and generally coming out of shock over what had just happened. I did manage to think to call the State Farm Agent to get a claim started. Unfortunately it is 4 days and 5 calls later with NO RESPONSE. Every time I call the relate how sorry they are and they take my number to have someone call me. I have yet to get one damned call.

That first night we spent in the house. We purchased flashlights, ice, bread, lunchmeat, and had a “campout”. It was hot, but we made do as best we could. None of us slept well, but we survived.

Hurricane “Southern Illinois”

Friday was horrible. The AM was pretty typical – went to work, came home at lunch, THEN I went to Hardees…

Just after I placed my order, and as I was getting my food it started to rain heavily. Nothing unusual there as we live in an area prone to violent storms and a tornado or two. Then the rain began coming sideways from West to East, a strong storm, but it’s happened before.

I finally realized this was a monstrous storm when the water on the ground began going uphill due to the wind. I was still sitting in the Hardee’s drive-thru watching all of this when their power went out. The girl at the window said that I might as well sit there since they couldn’t make/charge-for the people behind me with no power. We chatted for a second, and then an ashtray blew by, followed by 2 milk crates, 1/2 of the Hardee’s sign, and then a few power poles snapped.

At this point it was impossible to see anything 10 feet in front of the car. Thankfully the Hardee’s building was on the west side of me as I was in the drive-thru. I sat there for approximately 5 minutes watching the show of debris, but it seemed like an eternity.

Once I could see 20 feet or so, I decided I would be much safer back at work in the concrete building than in my car next to Hardee’s. Plus, most of the debris had blown by so I didn’t think there would be too much danger. WRONG.

While driving the two blocks back to the office at about 2MPH I saw trees from the North side of Broadway on the South side of Broadway, most of the restaurant signs blown at least 1/2 down, NO cars on the road (that made me feel safe), and visibility dropped back down to 5 feet or so.

The rain was unbelieveable. Once I got back to the office, grabbed my grub, and was ready to run in, I realized the office probably had no power either and my key-card probably wouldn’t work. I ran for it anyway. Outside the car I was inhaling water. That’s the only way I know to describe it. I felt as though I was drowning on land with the wind blowing ice-cold rain everywhere, especially in my face.

In less than 5 seconds I was drenched from head to toe, my bag o’ food disintegrated. Making it to the manual door I beat on it for a second and then took refuge under our lunch-carport. Under that roof I was still getting pelted, but could breathe without inhaling water. No one came. At that time I was determined to make it inside or back to my car for some type of shelter.

I darted out of my temporary shelter and over to the key-card door. The LED was on, IT WOULD WORK! I pulled out my key and swiped it, praying the whole time. It beeped and I conquered the wind pushing it shut while I was pulling.

Finally indoors and able to breathe again my thoughts turned to Emily, Erich, and Amaya. Were they safe? Did they make it to the daycare? How scared were they?

Fortunately they survived completely unscathed. I will continue this recovery story as I can.