Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Distant Cry of Chainsaws

When I lived in Los Angeles, I was often asked how I felt about the earthquakes since I was a transplant from an area without them. In all the years we were there, I only felt shock waves of one really big one miles and miles away. It woke me in the middle of the night and I was more frustrated and annoyed that I couldn't get my glasses from the nightstand since everything was moving. My answer was always the same, "I would rather have an earthquake than a tornado any day."

It's not that an earthquake is easy, because it's not. The devastation is harsh. But the advantage is that you don't know it's coming. It's just there. Then it's done.

But with a tornado, you have the watches and the warnings and the sirens. The news casters saying "Tornadoes have been spotted..." and "Conditions are ripe for tornadoes." You stand at your windows and you watch the storm clouds and wonder if that cloud right there is going to turn into one. It usually goes on for hours as the storm clouds make their way toward your home, over your home then ultimately beyond. It's that anticipation, that uncertainty, that makes it so difficult.

This past Monday in the wee hours of the morning, the winds picked up, the rains thrashed and the storm moved in. It was quick but it was powerful. There wasn't any kind of warning.

But the destruction it left was undeniable. This was not just an ordinary storm. From what I understand, the winds reached 100 mph in some areas. A call from my mom indicated that the winds in their neighborhood were severe. They lost their two apple trees along with a maple - trees that were among the first landscaping they did back in the mid 1970s. A fourth, a smaller tree along the front lane also fell victim to the storm. Branches on other trees were broken and flipped upward into the trees, over the limbs they were originally connected to. One of their neighbors had a windmill that was bent in half and another neighbor lost his flagpole that had been rated to withstand winds of at least 80mph.

DH and I spent the better part of Monday helping my parents clean up the chaos. We were hauling and stacking the limbs as fast as my dad would cut them but 35 year old trees are huge when you start to cut them apart. Each time my dad would cut the power on his chainsaw, we could hear at least one chainsaw running in the distance in one direction or another. Seems there was a lot of cleanup going on Monday.

With as nasty as this storm was, I'm thankful that my parents weren't injured, nor were any of their neighbors. I regret to say that one 4 year old child lost his life when a tree fell on their tent during a family camping trip. If you're curious what a 100 mph storm can do, check out some of the pictures on the QC Times website.

So as I sit here today, here in Iowa, I can honestly say that I prefer an earthquake to a tornado. Any day. Still.


  • Anonymous

    Earthquakes are really not a big deal. Tornadoes scare me to death and I've never even been in one. I'm glad to hear your parents are alright.

  • Danielle

    They are both so scary. I have never witnessed a tornado and I hope I never do. The only earthquake I have ever felt was very, very tiny! All very scary stuff.

  • Trish

    Wow, I am so sorry to hear about all the damage from the tornado. One summer while camping with my grandparents, two twisters came through the campground. My grandmother and I were laying on the floor of the trailer, and my grandfather was outside hanging onto a tree!

  • runningwildkids

    I am happy you guys are okay too! My heart just aches for those who still don't have the power on! I think I am with you.....I will tatke an earthquake over a tornado anyday.

  • Jenn

    I'm with you and since I live in tornado alley I really hate them! That's too bad about the little fella,I just can't imagine how awful it must be for his family. I'm glad nothing really got damaged at your parents by the falling trees.

  • Miss Lisa

    Oh that's scary. We have had some tornados but we have always been well enough away to be OK.
    Glad you and family are safe :)

  • Flutterby

    There have always been two things that I don't miss about Texas... tornadoes and hurricanes (since we lived on the coast). Oh.. make that three... I do not miss the 487% humidity either.

  • Anonymous

    Wow that is just scary. I live in Utah where we just have winters that last 9 months. So we just have a lot of season effective disorder going on. I will no longer complain though, because we are lucky not to have natural disasters.

  • Anonymous

    I am with you on tornadoes. I have lived in Indiana my entire life and tornadoes are terrible. They also seem to be getting more frequent and worse. People just don't know the power of the tornado unless they have lived through one.


    I am betting if you were in San Fran in 1989 you might not say that. Or if you were in the one in China that killed thousands of people.

    I hate tornadoes and high winds, too. We live in what used to be a corn field, so we seriously get a lot of wind, too. A neighbor lost two trees this year. Another nieghbor lost half a tree. Another neighbor lost one to lightening.


    PS. AnYTIME you are in the Peoria area, we would love to meet you. Seriously.