Some of you may have heard about the tornado that went through Washington Illinois, here in the US. Well, as I do live here, I am safe.
Those a few miles from me, I can't really say as much.
I guess I can tell you all a little (ha LITTLE as if. I ramble) story about this, so here goes nothing. (Hope you like long stories! Might be a while.) *cracks knuckles*
So I woke up this morning at 10:30. My mom woke me up saying there might be a tornado warning. Now, keep in mind this little town of ours has NEVER seen a tornado... Well maybe it has, but never in my life time. But I got up, did my routine things, and look outside. The rain was angled and odd, and other than that it was clear, though the wind was blowing like MAD.
We put together a small kit of sorts, and the sirens went off. We gathered our dogs and went downstairs. My Dad had gone off to church to be a greeter (aka shake everyone's hand and hand out papers and all that) and still wasn't home. So she called him to tell him that we were in the basement in my brother's room. (Just to clarify he's in Galesburg). He and the others were getting into the tornado shelters, and that's when the lights went out.
The wind was reaaally really loud against the boarded window in the room, probably 3x1ft, and we were afraid it'd blow out on us if the tornado got to us. And the sirens stopped. Then we heard the firetrucks and ambulances.
So, after regathering our things and heading back upstairs, it had completely changed outside. It went from dark to suddenly sunny skies, and the wind had died down. My Mom got a text from my Uncle asking if we were okay, and he mentioned how Washington had "gotten hit." And when we think of "getting hit" we think of heavy rain or hail... nothing serious. She managed to get a text out that said "We seem to be okay." We tried calling my Dad after that.
No answer. Tried again.
Again no answer.
We tried the church.
After about ten unsuccessful attempts, we started to freak out a bit... And, still not aware of the damage, we were about to leave. We were just about to walk to the garage when we heard my Dad pull into the drive way. Thank God or Creation or whoever, he was safe. I don't know about my Mom but I was seeing images of the church being leveled.
And I don't know about you reading this, but my Father is a strong man... sure he cries sometimes but only if something really bothers him. He hugged me, and started to cry. That's when we knew it was bad.
Imagine not being able to get a hold of your loved one and sitting at home, no idea how bad it is out there. That's bad, right? Now imagine being in the other person's shoes, pulling out of the parking lot and seeing complete and utter devastation as far as you can see to both sides... especially towards where your house is. And then on top of that, calling them repeatedly to find the call isn't going through, and you have no idea if they're okay or not, or what you'll come home to.
My strong father had a very good reason to cry.
A few weeks ago he had just received his certificate of being trained for being a first response volunteer. He was able to go in and help out, and we offered shelter from the brief amount of rain there was. There were people running from the Georgetown apartments with their kids and dogs, trying to get to a safe place to stay after their homes had been leveled. A policeman came up to us about ten minutes later and told us there might have been another tornado coming, and told us to go back home. Luckily there wasn't.
Around three hours later, my Dad called us. He was back at the church. Almost all the roads were blocked off, and we ended up having to go through Eureka to get to the church, which is waaay out of our way. We finally got him, and made our way back through East Peoria. But before we headed out, we managed to get a look at the area.
I'm not sure if any of you remember Joplin Missouri, but it's reminiscent of it. I was able to take a few pictures of it on my phone, and I have them to put up here. (Sorry if a few are blurry)
My dad searched through that rubble and debris for people. He's a very brave and strong man, but he said he won't ever forget seeing some of those things. He didn't see anyone hurt other than two banged up people, but there were some traumatic experiences for him. The first one he said was watching the tornado (Which was an F5 by the way) drop just a ways out from the church where he was standing. The second that stood out to him was as he was searching, there was a pile with baby shoes and toys. He said he just kept pleading that he wouldn't find anyone there. He also mentioned how the sound of a tornado isn't like a freight train like we've always heard. Rather, it sounds more like a rocket taking off. And I don't hesitate to believe him, as he was closer to the tornado than we were... But under a mile away, we still didn't hear it. (Yes, we were hardly a mile away from it where my mother and I were!)
But yes, my family and I are safe. Unfortunately, there are many out there that are not. There were 1-3 casualties, and anywhere from 20-30 injured. More than 100 houses were leveled, and our neighborhood and a few others were apart from that.
So please, if you would, just keep those who weren't as lucky as myself in your thoughts and prayers, and do wish them well, for they truly need it.
Thank you for your time, and have a lovely night/day or whatever it may be for you!