Sadly, we seem to have disasters in our lives at one time or another whether it's health or home or whatever it strikes. If it's Mother Nature, look out because she always wins. The end results are not good but human nature seems to help pick up the pieces of those who have lost the life they once knew. Nature's power is stronger than any super hero we see in Marvel movies, but our super heroes are what we need during and afterwards and most of our super heroes are humanly powerful.
Hail sizes and it melted down some by the time I got home.
I haven't wanted to talk about my personal disaster but I guess it's time to share it and my rural town's disaster as a whole. It happened Thursday, August 11, 2022 in Wallowa, Oregon in the the mid afternoon. F3 tornado came out of nowhere with no time to run. I was 17 miles away at the time, but my husband was trying to be a super hero to save what he could until he saw he couldn't. Someone did take a photo of the tornado and it was unreal. Wish I could show you, but I don't have permission to publish it.
TRYING TO SAVE MY TRUCK
First of all, I must say, Oregon doesn't get tornadoes but we can't say that anymore and we hope it was a fluke. My husband likes to watch storms and connect with them on his lightning app on his phone to see where they are going. This one, no sign of what it entailed, was heading our way from the west. Watching from our upstairs living room window, he saw the hail start to rumble from the clouds and went running downstairs to save his well loved truck parked outside. He opened up the automatic garage door (his truck is too big for the garage) put on his hard hat and had a blanket in his hand thinking he could run out there during the storm to cover his truck and save it from some damage. When he was ready to run outside, he thought better of it and said to himself, what will be will be. Thank goodness he made that decision as we had people injured who were caught without any where to go for cover. But if he wouldn't have tried to save his truck he would have been struck by glass from the windows blowing out. Broken glass and hail balls flew across the living room to other rooms and glass impaled the walls. Adding to the drama, the power went out so he had to shut the garage door with the hand pully while 3 inch round, hard balls of ice were flying inside the garage and luckily got it shut before he was hurt. Since my car was gone, he had room to maneuver and that was a good thing.
My husband's truck
WHERE WAS I DURING THE F3 TORNADO?
I missed the drama of the storm as I was in a town 17 miles away shopping. Oblivious to what was going on, I parked at the grocery store and got out of my car when a lady told me the power was out but they'd take cash. I thought ok, I only have a couple things to get and I have cash. It was weird to be inside the store without lights, the quiet, and customers being kind of in a daze as well as the employees. I heard someone say power is out in the whole county. I left the store without buying anything as I couldn't see it working out anytime soon.
FIND COVER AND POINT EAST
Before I left the store where I was 17 miles away, I called my husband and asked if we had power. He said no and was very excitable and his voice was firm. He said, "Find cover, point east because the storm is coming your way." He said he lost his truck and windows and I could hear crunching glass in the background. I was freaking out trying to remain collected. I said ok and searched town for that safe place, in a excitable state myself. I found a bank awning, pulled in and pointed east and called him back and I told him where I was. He kept watching the storm on his phone as we chatted. I noticed the trees blowing extra hard and thought ok, here it comes. As I was waiting, a man came out of a doughnut shop talking on his cell phone. I heard him say "Wallowa's been wiped out." I thought WHAT! I was really freaking out then. I sat in place for about 20 minutes until my husband said he thought it was safe to come home. The storm had seem to turn. Home I headed in anticipation and of what was left of Wallowa.
I drove the 17 country miles to home looking for signs of the storm. About a mile out, I saw wet road but as I wound myself in the S curves, I saw my first sign. An older man and woman were parked on the side of the road with a very smashed windshield and a sheriff's truck nearby to help them. I drove slowly by and started saying "Oh my gosh". When I got closer I saw trees stripped and grown trees down, branches broken on the ground, leaves, detour signs with lights and highway gates where damage was all over main street. Homes, business, with windows shattered, roofs, homes, sidings, torn to pieces and people in a daze of what just happened to them. A few homes had a tree topple on top and thank God no one died but I heard a dog and a horse did. One crazy story is a lady was filming the storm on her front porch. A HUGE tree in her backyard fell right down the middle of her manufactured home. It trapped her in the branches. It didn't kill her and I don't know her injuries from this, but wow, that was close to a death experience. Photo below.
Our community of neighbors helping neighbors and a few other towns chimed in to help as much as possible. We had help too. The next day the community was buzzing with activity of boarding up windows, patching holes and assessing damages before insurance people even came. I took pictures of our damages and some of our town. One of our local business who owns a drive in, made hamburgers for the volunteers helping and I helped deliver them to the workers. Insurances were called, claims were being made. Some didn't have insurance. The state gave us some money to help and I hope it will get people who lost their homes or roofs and windows ready for winter. It is just around the corner. The community has pretty much cleaned up but there are big scars and what was fixed is a band aide until we can get back to life before the storm. There is so much more to this story but this is all for now.
DID THIS REALLY HAPPEN TO WALLOWA, OREGON
"Oregon doesn't have tornadoes." That's what one insurance company said to a friend of mine. I feel we are still walking in a daze and mourning our losses and just shaking our heads on what insurances will do or not do. It should be a well oiled machine and insurances shouldn't be giving anyone the run around. My husband and I are still waiting for some answers and have decisions to make. The community is very wounded. Who is going to help us further? Bobby Levy, our Oregon State Representative is trying to help us and I hope she can move mountains. What happens to those who are homeless now because the storm damaged their home severely and have no insurance? I pray there will be a happy ending. I keep thinking a year from now, we'll be almost back to normal. All of us are a little jumpy seeing black clouds, hearing thunder. We are also being surround by wild fires started by lightning strikes. Smoke is in the air just hovering between our tornado disaster.
A neighbor's home
WHAT DID WE LOSE
We need a new roof, our RV was totaled, my husband's truck wasn't totaled but will never be the same. Five windows need to be replace and these are just the major things we have lost. Each person has the same sad story but a little different spin. We all have lost windows on the West side of our homes and damages that take our breath away. We are concerned about winter and how ready we'll be to face it. I always felt bad when I'd hear about tornadoes in the Midwest and see their devastation. Now I feel their pain. Mother Nature rules on land and on sea.
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A DISASTER?
What to do in a disaster? I don't have all the answers and the best laid plans can change, but be as prepared as possible because you never know when it's going to strike. Be ready to grab and go. As far as recovery goes, find your way through your journey by being persistent for help and don't assume anything. Check on your insurance and see what it covers. Update it if necessary . If your insurance is not giving you what you need to replace your home and stuff, contact your insurance commissioner. Be sure to take photos of the damages for your insurance and take notes when you start calling people for help. As you look back you can also see how far you have come in your recovery.
As we pick up the pieces, at least we are not attending funerals. We are grateful for that.