Looking Back…

The sky that morning...

The sky that morning…

What I remember most about that morning was the sky.  We’d already had a tornado in the county two days earlier, and as I was headed in to work, the sky just looked so strange.  There was already talk on the weather about how it could, and likely would, get nasty that day, but it wasn’t supposed to happen until later in the afternoon.  Still, the sky just had an eerie, foreboding look about it.  I snapped a couple of pictures with my phone to share on Facebook, but I had no idea of just how much worse that day was going to get.

As we approach March 2nd, one year removed from a day that Morgan County folks will remember for the rest of their lives, most of us are probably taking some time to reflect…to think about that day and the days since.   I just wanted to share my thoughts as I look back on the past year, and to think a little on the years to come.  I hope that some of you will add your thoughts in the comment section below.

When I think about that day, there are definitely the memories of the large-scale destruction, but there also so many little things…small details that remain stuck in my mind…and likely always will.

Things like the sight of seeing metal swirling in the air as the tornado was hitting Wells Hill and realizing this was actually about to happen…we were about to be hit by a tornado.

The sound of so many things hitting the house, over and over, as we crouched and prayed in our little kitchen pantry.

There was the overwhelming sense of relief as those sounds faded, knowing we had made it, but those feelings were coupled with a new fear of not knowing what to expect to find when we walked out our doors.

I also clearly remember the smell as we walked Liberty Road in front of the hospital, on the way to try and find my mom.  I can remember thinking that maybe it was wood…wood that had been hidden beneath bricks and shingles for years and years, that was now newly exposed…twisted and broken and soaked by the rain.

There would be no end to the range of emotions that day and in the days to come.

Fear of not knowing the full extent of what all and who all had been lost…

Relief at finding out that family and friends were accounted for and OK…

Joy at hearing familiar voices or seeing friendly faces in the darkness that night…

Concern about family and loved ones who might not know that we were OK and having no way to get in touch with them to ease their worries.

It was as wide a range of emotions as a person can probably go through in such a short amount of time, but through all of those ran a thread of surprise…surprise that anything like this could happen here, when all of our lives we’d assumed that these hills would keep us safe from such vicious things.

In many ways, I think the emotional ups and downs of March 2nd and the days that followed would come to serve as a sort of template for the year.  There were moments that lifted us up, and others that left us feeling flat.  This year has seen our community unite in amazing ways, but it has also exposed divisions underneath.  We have grown stronger and more courageous, but we also have a new fear inside us that may never go away.

the night the Freezer Fresh opened

the night the Freezer Fresh opened

They do say time heals all wounds, and we have definitely healed a lot in this past year…but I know there are scars, on the land and in our hearts, that will never let us forget that day.  Still, there has been no shortage of moments this past year to aid in that healing process.

There was the swarm of volunteers that worked throughout the county to get us back on our feet…cutting trees, carrying debris, delivering supplies, cooking food…there was no shortage of assistance, and it continues to this day…

The help from the agencies and organizations, both from within the community and outside of it, that have put so many people back in homes and back on their feet that thought they may never get that chance again…

The sight of a crowd gathered around the newly opened Freezer Fresh and the taste of that first double decker…

Watching the football team play again on a field that had been only months before covered in debris…

Seeing cars parked on Main Street again, with folks excitedly visiting a newly re-opened business.

There has been much progress in the past year, and it looks like we will continue on that path.  As the weather starts to warm and the ground starts to dry, new construction is likely to begin all over the place.  The sounds of hammers and saws building anew is starting to replace the sounds of debris and damage being torn down and hauled away.

I know that the first severe weather threat in our area this Spring is likely to make us all pee in our pants a little…and truthfully, it may be that way for a while…but I also know that continuing to see positive changes and progress…and finding ways to create new positive memories associated with the tornado…will go a long way towards easing the burden that the events of that day placed on our hearts and minds.

 

  • Janedmn

    After listening to baseball size hail hit the house, the creaking and banging and breaking as the garage blew off the house, then the breezeway collapsed against the door, then the roof and everything upstairs went. Just as the dirt was falling down from the hall bathroom vent, I thought the ceiling would go. But all of a sudden, just as quick as it started, it got quiet. Deathly quiet. DIdn’t know what I would see when I opened the bathroom door. One picture on the floor. Double front windows sucked out of the house. Doors ripped from hinges and ripped in half. Couldn’t get out the end or front. Secured the dogs in the house and started off the hill, to see who we could find. And help what little I could, since I was 3 wks post op shoulder replacement. We crawled over huge trees, electric lines, telephone poles and lines. Checked on the neighbors then went to the hospital because I knew Judy could see my house was damaged. I’ve never ‘heard’ such quiet as we came down the road. Then overcome by multitudes of car alarms, fire alarms in the hospital and voices beginning to yell for help. Oh what a long night it was, that grew into days, weeks, months and now a year. We are all special. We are survivors.

  • Jamie Brunk

    Very well written, Dave.  God bless. 

  • Charles

    A time to remember and never will we forget. Very well written and God Bless us all, as we go into the 1st anniversary of this tragic event.I wittnessed many things that day, as the tornado came up the river and engaged West Liberty. Since then, I have wittnessed many things in the community that have been a blessing for so many. I hope we all keep our eyes on what we have to do and our hearts pure, with our minds on the future for our children and grandchildren. May we never forget how things can become.