Monday, October 23, 2006

Down Where Your Paint is Cracking

One of these is my house...

This weekend I was obsessively reading Illiterati's blog, and on it she wrote a post about the fact that it had been six months since the tornado. It threw me for a minute, because I realized that it had been a while since I'd even thought about the storm. That whole first week after, I couldn't believe that I wouldn't be eternally fixated with it and it pissed me off that other people were walking around town laughing and drinking and actually enjoying things like nothing had happened. I can't really remember the day or the week or the month that it ceased being right at the fore of my thoughts.

...And this is my house on drugs.

If you weren't a regular reader at that time, you can read a post about it here. Most of the people in my neighborhood are close to finishing the clean-up and repair. Luckily we don't live in a historical district, where in order to repair your building, you would have to follow codes for things insurance wouldn't cover in a million years.

Here is my neighbor's house before rehab...

Depending on who they were insured by, some neighbors received more money than others. You can tell who had the the better insurance coverage by the size of each homeowner's rebuilt garage. If you're currently shopping around, it might be worth your while to check out who on our street is building a mini resort in their backyard and then knock on the door and ask for their insurance agent's name.

...And this is the place after its proverbial, twenty-eight day stint.

Even six months later, I still feel the repercussions from the storm. I'm still trying to cover financially and all summer long, the sound of helicopters or tornado sirens could spike my blood pressure close to stroke levels. Once in May, I was walking downtown on my break and someone's car alarm was going off. An international student ran up to me in a panic and asked me if what she was hearing was a tornado siren. A year ago, I would have chuckled and explained to her that it was just a car alarm in a way too patronizing tone. But right after the storm, I understood the fear and explained to her the difference between the sound of a car alarm and a tornado siren. I had to try really, really hard to restrain myself from saying, "Listen, if you even hear a loud noise that may just be someone yelling, don't wait. Break into the nearest building and run down to the basement... And whatever you do, don't take a bath!"


Margaret said...

I know that siren induced panic from a storm a little over 10 years ago. I'll never forget emerging from the bathroom with E (4 weeks old, he slept throgh the whole thing) to see what was left of our house.

Churlita said...

It's definitely something that stays with you, isn't it? I wish my daughter had slept through the whole thing.

Mark said...

In the 1990s I lived with a group of people while I was taking some college courses. One of them was a woman who had lived through a direct hit by a tornado when she was a teenager. It was sad to see how traumatized it left her.

If the weather started to get the least bit stormy (which it is known to do in Iowa) she would get very anxious and upset. A thunderstorm would reduce her to tears.

She lived in North English (I think that was the town) when her family's home was hit. She said it sounded like there was a lion roaring in both of her ears at the same time. Their house was lifted off the foundation and moved a block away.

She said the worst part was when she was holding her little brother and then suddenly felt him ripped from her hands. She found out after the storm, that her mother had grabbed him and pulled him to her. Terrifying.

When I was a kid my father told me that a tornado would never hit O-town because we were in a valley. Of course, as we got older, we learned that was bullshit. It seems every town has a "reason" a tornado won't hit them. Whistling in the dark, I guess.

I can't imagine what it must have been like for you. The closest thing I've ever experienced was when a micro-storm (that's what the newspapers called it) hit the southside of town and dropped a tree on my car, crushing it. I was peeved, to be sure, but I never felt my life was in danger.

I imagine it is something that will stay with you, but hopefully it will lose some of its bite with time.

Remiman said...

Wow, I can't imagine the feeling you get when that stuff happens.
We get horrendous snow storms and freezing rain can be pretty bad. They're nothing compared to what I imagine a tornado or hurricaine to be.
Alot of folks here abouts don't like the cold. I'll take snow, cold, and freezing rain any time. Just stoke up the wood stove and put on a pot-a-soup and wait 'er out. Loose power once in awhile but shit, who cares...just fire up the generator (for the refrig.) and break out the candles.

Churlita said...


It sounds like your friend had it way worse than we did. Our house only twisted, but stayed on its foundation. I'm sure next Spring will be very interesting.


In Iowa we get it all. 100 degrees with equal humidity in the Summer and 30 below with the windchill in the Winter. Why do I live in Iowa again?

Brando said...

I re-read your post from after the incident -- powerful stuff. I had trouble sleeping during storms all summer after it, which is great when there's thunderstorms all summer long here. Definitely not something I'd like to experience again.

Churlita said...

I know. I wonder if it will be any easier next Summer, when it isn't still so fresh?