When we got home, we still couldn’t really think about what had just happened. There was too much to do. Power was out, and my husband immediately began calling people (although cell reception was horrible too), including the company he works with to let them know what happened and that he wouldn’t be available until further notice.
At this point, I need to say that I have never been so proud of my husband and honored to be his wife. He was the strength we all needed. He found two generators we could borrow (his dad needs refrigerated medication, and neither he or I could have handled the summer heat). He brought home two 5 gallon jugs of water from his work, and over the next few weeks and months, he would be the hero in more ways than I can count.
So, soon we had Christmas lights running through the house, and we were able to use the refrigerator and air conditioner.
The thing with generators is you selectively choose what to power, so we still didn’t have TV or anything other than Christmas or flashlights. The reason I mentioned TV is that although we knew somewhat of the damage from the radio, we didn’t really know the full extent. There was a lot of misinformation too. The death toll at one point was reported in the 80s or 90s, but ultimately it was 24, with 300+ injuries.
The sense of helplessness was overwhelming. Kids had been killed in their school. Hundreds of people were suddenly homeless. So much devastation. In my wheelchair, I couldn’t even help my inlaws sort through their wreckage. I couldn’t leave our street because of the downed power lines. Eventually I was able to take the kids picture hunting, but those first few days my mind was full of a desperate desire and a complete inability to help.
The police checked IDs to get into streets, neighborhoods, etc. including our street, because looting was a concern. Soon though, churches everywhere and even other things like a local nursing home were full of donations. The world was pouring out support, and it’s a good thing, cause it was desperately needed. Salvation Army food trucks came through our neighborhood with much appreciated hot meals. Volunteer groups worked at first in the hardest hit areas, and then to the less damaged parts, like our home.
Thankfully, one of the groups helping from Texas was in our neighborhood after the next tornado hit, which actually caused more damage to our home than the one on the 20th had caused. But I guess that’s another story…