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Monday, May 9, 2011

Surving a Tornado: A Diabetic's Tale

There is so much to be recapped that happened last week.  I've thought for awhile how to try to write about it, and the only way is to give a recap of that day, April 27th.  For those that don't know what I'm talking about, a multiple tornado outbreak struck Alabama last week, killing hundreds and displacing thousands.  Our area was hit pretty hard, but we came out of it extremely lucky.  

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Got up that morning and it was already raining.  I let the dogs out to pee and let them eat in the garage.  I get ready for work, all the while the radio breaks in with tornado watches and thunderstorm warnings in our area.  The National Weather Service gave our area a tornado potential of 9 for today (out of 10).  I debated leaving for work until this line passed, but it ended just as I was packing my lunch.

Get to work and continue to watch the radar, which isn't hard with an office full of weather geeks.  Another line was coming through at 10 AM.  I watched its path intently, but it seemed to go north of us.  I called our neighbors to see if our dogs were still OK outside.  They said they couldn't see them, but they barely got any rain anyway.  They asked me if I wanted them to let them in before the next line was to hit at 12 PM.  I said they didn't have to, but it would be a decision I would later regret. 

At 11:30 AM, a tornado warning was issued for our area, and we got an announcement to make our way down to the basement.  I grab my things and head down to the very stinky basement with the rest of my colleagues.  We all crowd around smart phones as we try to watch the radar.  The rain outside was pounding.  We tried to keep ourselves entertained as much as we could with Angry Birds and conversation while the storm passed.  Then someone said something that would make my heart sink, "A tornado has been seen on the ground northwest of us."  My heart sank.  Even though we were safe, my mind immediately jumped to our house and our two dogs outside.  I texted Trey that I was going to leave as soon as it was safe to do so, my hands were shaking I was so worried. 

I was finally able to leave my office at 12:30 PM, but it took me over an hour to get home due to the debris that had already blocked the roads.  It was the longest hour of my life.  With each turn that I made, I saw more destruction.  Five foot diameter trees were uprooted.  Fences blown over.  Powerlines were sagging where the posts were snapped.  The whole time, I was just trying to maintain my sanity.  If that house had their fence torn apart, surely ours wouldn't have made it.  I kept thinking of all the trees in our backyard, and seeing several trees on tops (and through) people's homes.  I felt tears begin to fall down my face as I got closer to my street.  I had to drive in the middle of one street where the sides were beginning to flood.  One more road to go, but in my heart I had already prepared myself for the worst when I got home. 

I was about to turn on my street where a line of cars were being stopped by a policeman.  Most cars were trying to go straight to get to the main road, I was trying to turn left to my house.  "Where you headed?" the policeman asked.  "I live down there, on the left."  "You can try, but it's blocked a ways up there."  I didn't care, I would run a mile if I had to.  I just wanted to get home.  I came over the hill before our driveway, and the powerline across the street had been snapped in two and was draped across the road.  I parked in our neighbor's driveway, and I saw Roscoe coming out of some bushes next to the house, barking at me.  Missy was not far behind him.  "Thank you, God!"  I ran across the flooded ditch in my dress pants and heels, turned the key, and ran to the garage.  I let my dogs in and fell on my knees and broke down.  I probably cried for a good 5 minutes, embracing my soaked, muddy dogs like they had just come back from the dead.  I attempted to dry them off with some towels, but we didn't have much time before the next line was about to come through. 

I gathered all 4 pets, my phone, and a flashlight, and crammed all of us in our bedroom closet.  Trey was still at work, but they had lost power.  He said he would attempt to come home after this next line came through.  I have to give big props to my friend Jessica for keeping me informed through the storm.  I was unable to locate a hand radio before we needed to take cover, so she texted me while I was in the closet and kept me informed of the storm's location.  I was able to peek out of the closet one time, and the rain was coming down so hard I couldn't see past our deck.  It was like being inside a car wash, and all you see is the water streaming down.  The power was already out, so I lied down in the closet with the little LED flashlight. 

At this point, I have to admit, I was scared.  The wind was howling outside, with faint sounds of cracking--I knew it was trees being snapped.  As I sat in the closet listening to the storm, I began to pray.  I had never been through a storm like this before, and I had already seen the destruction from the previous line.  I wasn't scared of dying, but I was afraid of how.  I prayed that if this was my time to go, that God would send an angel to take my body before I felt any pain.  I wanted my soul to be taken just before the tornado would hit our house.  Tears began rolling down my face.  I couldn't believe it, I was ready to die. 

The storm eventually passed, but I was still in the closet.  I was about to fall asleep, using Roscoe as a pillow, when I heard, "Holly!"  I jumped out of the closet and ran down the hall, Trey had made it home safe and sound.  With a few minutes of daylight left, we went outside to check on our neighbors.  Our across-the-street neighbors had a tree fall in their dining room, but they had already tarped over it.  Our next door neighbors also had a tree fall and graze their house.  We had a tree fall on our back fence. 

Now that the storms were over, we geared up for what was already predicted to be a long hiatus without power.  We got in my car to try to drive around our street so we could park it in our driveway.  As we turned the corner down our street, I broke down.  The devastation was overwhelming, and we didn't even know the extent of it yet. 

Next, I'll focus on the following week:  the cleanup, running on a generator, cold showers, rekindling my love of reading, hauling trees, and how my blood sugars played during all this. 


  1. Thanks for telling your story.

  2. I still can't imageine this. thank you for sharing

  3. Holly I am so glad you, Trey, and the dogs were all okay! I had tears in my eyes for you all while reading this. I have been so sorry to hear what's happened from that tornado :(

  4. Oh, Holly. I was so scared for you as I read this - even though I knew how it ended! You describe things so well (the "being in a car wash" part was an awesome way to put it), and I'm thankful that you're sharing this story.

  5. I am so thankful you told this story. I just sent some supplies to JDRF so I hope that helps. Thank you for telling your story. It just shows us how strong we really are. I can't imagine what you are going through. I wish you all good things.

  6. Wow. It's funny that I totally thought of you when all of this was going down. It's different when you have a face to put to the storm.

    So glad that you and Trey and the doggies are well. We're all thinking about you.

  7. Oh Holly, I know we'll talk about this tonight, but I had no idea. I knew you were OK after the storms, but I didn't realize what you went through on that Wednesday. You've become a special friend to me, and I'm sorry you were so scared. I can't wait to hug you tonight. Be prepared, it's coming! ;)

  8. Holly, I'm so grateful you all (doggies and pets included!) are okay. I'm crying as I read your post--I can't imagine how scary it was for you, your husband, and those awesome dogs. ;) I know there is so much work to be done, and it will be hard, but you will be okay. Much love to you and yours from Northern California.

  9. Holly, I started crying when you realized that your dogs were outside and possibly gone! I'm so glad that you all made it safe and sound!!!


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DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nurse, certified diabetes educator (CDE) or any medical professional of any kind. (But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!) Therefore, please do not use any of my postings as medical fact. I am simply a blogger expressing my highs and lows (pun intended) with diabetes. For changes in your medication, exercise regiment, or diet please consult a qualified physician.

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My name is Holly and I live in north Alabama with my hubby, two cats, and a dog.