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.