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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Night after the storm

Thank God we're safe and sound.  It's just after 3am and I can't sleep.  Every time I close my eyes my mind races.  I start to replay the last minute of what happened in the house.  And I am in awe of how good God must be to have kept us safe and any semi-important things unharmed.  I say semi-important because nothing in my house seems very important after what happened.  I'm hoping maybe writing a little will allow my brain to rest so I can get some sleep and not be a total zombie tomorrow.

About 2:30 Jon texted that it was dark and real windy at his school, then said he saw a tree knocked over in the courtyard outside his window.  I remember thinking "gosh, I hope that storm doesn't come south."  Then it got darker and I asked James to help close the windows.  He worked on one in the kitchen while I did the playroom, closed the front door, closed the bedroom window and then went to the backdoor.  As I closed the back door I heard a very loud cracking noise.  I figured it was a tree limb breaking and didn't think much of it.  I did note I had to force the door closed as the wind was quite strong.  I then went to close the final window as the wind was pushing the rain into the house and continued to hear the cracking.  I still didn't think much of it as I pulled the couch away from the wall to get to the crank.  The crank fell to the floor so I grabbed the one next to it and started to close the window.  I saw what I thought was a branch fall just passed the window I was closing and turned around as I heard a loud thud.  I couldn't believe my eyes as I saw the ceiling caved in.  Panic started to set in as I saw the tree blocking the front door.  I ushered James into the playroom as I decided what to do.  I tried calling Jon, but he didn't answer.  So instead I dialed 911, luckily having my cell phone in hand this whole time.  The woman sent a fire truck and told me I had to get out.  It was a total downpour outside and we had no shoes or umbrella.  I remember that our neighbor, Wendy, would be home so we opened the never used third door and made a run for it.  We ran through 4" of water on the sidewalk and across the street.  Wendy saw us coming and couldn't figure out why we were running.  Later she told me she was wondering why I had texted/called instead of coming over.  Then she saw the house from across the street.  It was nice to know we were safe and had help.

I waited under Wendy's eaves for the fire department to arrive and got in touch with Jon.  They didn't do much, except tell me to stay out of the house and estimate the tree to weigh 1200-1300lbs!  They let me go inside to grab a few needed items - keys, teddy bears, shoes, and my purse.  What I really needed was my laptop - everything is on here.  I was told no as it was in the corner where the tree was but the head fireman did go over and get it for.  They dropped my stuff at Wendy's and went to help others where there was something they could do.  Meanwhile Jon had called the insurance company and they had referred him to a tree service.  The tree service and a village representative arrived about the same time.  The tree guy looked over the house and let me know a crew would be arriving as soon as possible, but traffic was bad and they were finishing up a limb removal.  He left to get a tarp for the hole.

The village guy walked around the outside with me and asked if there was a way inside.  It was while these 2 gentleman were there that I realized the tree had pulled up 2 slabs of concrete as came up.  Our back door rendered unusable and our front door blocked by the tree, our third door the only usable entryway.  We went back into the house to assess the damage and he deemed we could re-enter once the tree was removed to retrieve needed items but were not allowed in the living room.  He remarked that he felt part of the house would be okay due to the steel beam running between our living room and kitchen.  Then he got an orange sticker out of his car to put on this house, deeming it uninhabitable until someone comes in to shore it up and check the structural integrity.  He wrote his name and direct number on the sticker and asked us to call should we need anything.  A wonderful gesture, he told me that all permit fees would be waved and that we can move forward as quickly as possible with any repair work, they will help that happen on their end.  It's great to see that they are willing to help us along as possible.

At that point it became a waiting game.  I waited for the bus to drop off Carolyn, who was stuck at school a bit longer as buses were delayed.  I sent her to Wendy's to play while I waited for Jon and the tree crew to arrive.  Jon came home and was on the phone with the insurance company a bunch. The tree crew arrived and did a very nice, quick job of removing such a large tree.  It took 2 trucks for all the wood chips and multiple crews were working.  Once the tree was removed we went and loaded up a laundry basket with clothes for the night.  Jon had discussed the situation with multiple people at the insurance company and they secured a hotel room for the night.  It just so happens to be the same hotel where we had our wedding reception over 8 years ago!  I prefer the former reason for being here of course.  The room is great and is a suite so the kids have their own room.  Great since it's 4am and I can't sleep and don't want to wake them.  We'll be here for at least 2 more nights, and then they'll try to move us hopefully closer to home and a place with a kitchenette if we still can't go home.

A company was to come to board up the hole last night.  We left to find dinner around 7:30 so I hope they came.  Of course I have visions of the roof completely collapsing in that part of the house as there was more rain last night.  While they removed the tree more drywall fell from the ceiling and we could see the entire ceiling is bowed in our living room.  There is a lot of damage and it's going to take a lot of time to fix.  But once the structural integrity is determined, we should be able to return home while the work is done.  We will be meeting with someone at 11 today to start the clean-up process.  There was standing water, so I do wonder if the floor will be ruined.

For now I hope I will be able to sleep without hearing the cracking of the tree and replaying what happened over and over.  Definitely some PTSD from the whole thing, and I hope and pray that James won't have the same problem when he returns to the house.  Both kids seem to be sleeping soundly tonight, although a 10pm bedtime doesn't give them much choice.  In 4hrs we'll be up for the day and headed to Carolyn's first soccer scrimmage.  I want to keep things as normal as possible for the kids.  And then I hope my brain can settle down so I can get back to close to normal, or at least a new normal until the house is put back together.

Thank God we're all safe.

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