Back in the days before phone weather apps we would occasionally hear the civil service siren going off with warnings about severe thunderstorms or tornados in our metro area.
Now living out in the country on a lake, I have been a bit worried that we are not within range of a civil service siren. We can check the latest weather on our phone, but if a storm comes in the night we might not be awake to notice. Early last Wednesday morning at about 4:00 am we were awakened by a loud tornado warning coming from our phones. I did not know that was a thing, but now I am very grateful for it. We looked at the radar map and saw an ominous looking cell heading our way, so we decided a trip to the basement was prudent.
I woke up our daughter who was visiting, and we headed to an area of the basement away from windows. My husband, Wayne, first looked outside and did not see anything threatening, but when he started to hear a roaring sound he made a dash for the basement stairs. The storm slammed into the house with a terrific force. We heard what sounded like things falling off shelves and breaking, high winds, branches hitting the house, and then the power went off. It was scary.
After the storm had passed we went upstairs and tried to assess the situation in the dark. It appeared that the house was fine, but there was damage on a lake facing deck. A glass top table had shattered, a pergola was trashed with the canvas top in shreds, and other outside furniture was askew or missing. Later in the daylight we could see many trees down in the yard.
All along the east side of the lake hundreds of trees were down. About 1/3 mile from our house a clump of 3 mature basswood trees fell, with 2 of them landing on the roof of our beloved family cabin, missing the stone chimney by inches. Everyone was thankful that there was minimal damage to the roof, and the inside was intact. Dozens of other trees on the cabin property were also down. Ironically, family members had been debating for a few years about whether to have the basswood trees removed. Some argued that they were healthy trees providing shade, and cutting them down was an unnecessary expense. Others were concerned about the trees taking out the cabin if they fell in a storm. That question is now a moot point. Insurance will pay for removal of the trees and structural repair.
Official reports were that straight line winds caused the damage, but everyone around here is sure it was a tornado or possibly a series of small tornadoes. Reasons for that include finding chairs on the opposite side of the house from where they started, including one stuffed deep in a lilac bush, finding a stick drilled 5 inches into the lawn, and finding half of the canvas pergola cover in the ditch on the other side of the road, shredded to bits. Normal high winds could not move these items around corners or drill sticks into the ground. Also there were many trees that were twisted or had the tops broken off in odd ways.
Wayne was busy most of the day chain sawing branches that were blocking the road and driveway, and we all picked up many tarp loads of sticks and branches from the yard. It was extremely humid and still outside. I was sweating buckets and commented that it felt like tornado weather. Sure enough, we got another tornado warning on our phone apps around 4:00 in the afternoon. That storm was south of us and heading away, so we did not need to take shelter. However it produced an F4 tornado near Ashby, Minnesota, that caused some major damage and killed one person. Several people took amazing videos that made the national news.
Our neighbor to the south had a professional tree crew cleaning up downed trees and making a massive pile of wood and brush. We are wondering if he is going to have the bonfire of the century next winter.
Two of my uncles have homes close to the family cabin. They also had a tree crew out working on storm cleanup asap, including removing the trees from the cabin. A permit was obtained for a fire on some open land near the cabin, so we were able to unload some of our brush over there. For days after the storm the main sound in the area was chain sawing.
My sister and husband, along with some good friends, were able to come up from the cities over the weekend to help with cleanup. We were also thankful that our daughter happened to be visiting and was more than willing to provide needed manual labor.
With all the challenges of 2019 and 2020, we are very grateful for the support and love of family and friends. One day at a time.