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.