I woke up last Wednesday morning around 4:30. The tornado siren was going off, and instead of jumping out of bed and screaming down the stairs, I rolled over and went back to sleep. The tornado sirens go off around here a lot, it seems, and most of the time it turns out to be nothing.
Fred came upstairs a little after 5 to say goodbye before he left for work. He told me that there were bad storms expected at various points during the rest of the day, but I was okay for at least a little while.
I rolled over and went back to sleep.
I got up an hour later and went about my usual morning activities, scooping and checking on cats, and doing my sweep of the downtairs looking for cat pee (you envy me my glamorous life, I know).
Around mid-morning, Fred called to see how the weather was, and I looked out the window and told him it was raining, but nothing too bad. As I talked to him, the rain picked up, and I reported that, then we hung up. I went into the living room and turned on the TV and watched the meteorologist show the lines of storms and where they were going. Fred called some more, we talked, we hung up, I started watching a recorded episode of Dr. Phil, and then I noticed that it was getting darker outside. I flipped back to the TV station and saw that bad weather was headed our way.
I decided it was time to go upstairs and bundle the McMaos into a crate and bring them downstairs to keep them safe, and stood up to do so when the wind outside picked up – and I don’t know how to describe it, but I have never seen or heard such violent wind, and it scared the crap out of me. I raced upstairs, (gently) tossed Maggie and the babies into their crate, and ran downstairs as quickly as I could. I stashed the crate in the closet under the stairs, and started calling cats. When they came to me, I put them in the closet, but as soon as I got them in the closet, they ran back out.
I finally gave up and stood in the doorway of the closet and hoped for the best.
When the wind died down and the rain slacked off, I ran and got the phone and called Fred. I was talking to him when I glanced out the side window and saw that a big tree on the church property had fallen across the ditch to our side yard. It fell perfectly, not taking down any power lines or hitting the garage. Then I walked to the back of the house and saw that a huge tree to the side of the chicken yard had fallen into the chicken yard. After the storm passed and the rain mostly stopped, I went out to see what exactly was what.
Y’all, I have never ever seen so much water back there. From the back of our back yard to the middle of the back forty was nothing but water. I stopped and shot a video from outside the corner of our back yard.
Then I slogged across the ditch (the bridge that goes across the ditch had floated away a bit) and though I was wearing my knee-high boots, the water was above that, so my boots were immediately full of water.
The tree in the chicken yard had fallen so perfectly – it missed the coop completely. Gracie ran over to me, but I didn’t see George anywhere. I called for him, but nothing. I wasn’t actually too worried that he’d been hit by the tree, because the dogs usually sit under the rain shelter at the front of the coop or inside the coop itself. I grabbed a few things that had floated away from the coop, checked inside the coop (the chickens in there gave me a look like “What do YOU want?”) and went over to talk to my next door neighbor.
This was from the chicken yard itself:
I had just opened my mouth to tell her we couldn’t find George, when she said “I see your babies are okay!” and I turned to see both George and Gracie standing there. We talked for a moment, and then I came inside to take the McMaos back up to the foster room. The babies were a little “What was THAT?”, but Maggie was pretty calm and went over to get a bite to eat.
A few minutes later, my neighbor’s son knocked on the door to tell me that my dog was out, and I ran to the back of the house, put on my boots, and went out to see George sitting near the back yard, being petted by my neighbor’s other son. I called to George, who excitedly ran over, and lured him into the back yard. I looked out to see Gracie in the chicken yard, told her she was a good girl, and went back inside the house.
I think at some point another line of storms went through, and I heard a meteorologist on one of the TV stations say that there was a line coming from Oklahoma that was going to make the morning’s storms look like child’s play. I reported that to Fred, and finally around 2:00 convinced him to come home from work.
Fred got home and surveyed the damage, went out to check on the chickens, and we talked about what to do about the dogs. The fence that the tree had taken out meant that the dogs could leave the back forty whenever they wanted. There were some branches down on the fence in the yard around the blue coop, but Fred went out and moved them and straightened out the fence, and we decided to put the dogs there until we could get the chicken yard cleared and some temporary fence put in place.
After we got the dogs moved, we went inside and watched the storm coverage. Which is when it got scary. First they reported that the bad line of storms was going to go south of this. A few minutes later, they reported that it was going to go north of us. To Fred’s mind, that meant they were going to hit us directly. We brought the McMaos downstairs and put them in the downstairs bathroom, and I was standing in the doorway of the closet while Fred went to the front of the house and looked out, then went to the back of the house and looked out, then back to the front of the house. All the while, I was yelling at him to get his butt into the hallway (ie, the center of the house), and he did for a minute, then went back to the window.
“Come look at this!” he yelled. I went to the window at the front of the house, and we stood there and watched an EF-5 tornado go by a mile south of us.
I don’t mind telling you, we were a TAD freaked out.
The weather calmed down, and at some point we lost power. We got out the radio and the flashlights and candles, and sat in the living room and listened to the radio. After a few hours, we headed up toward Athens to see if we could get a signal on my cell phone so Fred could check on his parents and sister. Fred was able to get hold of his father, then called and left a message for his sister and asked her to call their mother (his mother and stepfather recently changed their number, and do you suppose we have the number written down or programmed anywhere? Of COURSE not.), and then we came home and checked the animals and the house, then spent the evening listening to the radio.
When we went to bed shortly after 9, we had no power. Fred told me that if the power was still out Thursday morning (which we expected), he’d get out the generator and fire it up. We bought a generator 4 years ago and haven’t needed to even take it out of the box. However, shortly after 9:30, the power came back on and didn’t so much as flicker back off again.
Thursday morning Fred attempted to go to work, but after getting part of the way there and hearing that most of North Alabama was without power, he turned around and came home. After I got up, he asked if I wanted to go drive out to where the tornado we saw had passed, and we went out and did just that.
I didn’t get more pictures because I was too busy staring and saying “Oh my god!” The pictures you see on TV – and the pictures you see above – don’t do it justice. It truly looked like a bomb went off.
We got home and went out to start clearing the tree from the chicken yard. I’d been concerned that a chicken or two might have gotten hit by the falling tree, but as far as we can tell, the chickens are all present and accounted for, including all the chicks.
Fred was out working on cutting limbs of the tree, and I was checking on the McMaos, when I heard a knock at the door. By the time I got downstairs, whoever was at the door had left, and when I looked toward where Fred was working, I saw our neighbor’s son walking toward him. I went out and Fred looked at me and called “Get a carrier!”
She showed up under a car in the driveway of our two-doors-down neighbor, howling. Our next door neighbor’s son lured her out with some meat, and he snatched her up and brought her over to us (we might have a reputation). She was a bit wild at first, but she’s pretty friendly now and the most playful little thing. We had her in the downstairs bathroom for the first day, then moved her over to the guest bedroom, where she’s currently residing. She’s going tomorrow for testing and possibly spaying (she weighed just at over 2 pounds; it depends on what the vet’s scale says); I’m guesstimating her to be about 8 weeks old.
By the end of Thursday, we’d gotten the tree across the chicken yard moved enough that we could get a temporary fence put up, and got the dogs moved back to the back forty.
I have to say that George and Gracie were absolutely amazing through this. It clearly bothered them a great deal to be away from their flock, but they behaved really well. They were overjoyed to get back “home”, that’s for sure.
I spent Friday doing my best to send and receive text messages to my family and Nance and getting word out that we were okay. I cleaned the house (we’d sent out the word that we had power and everyone was invited over to shower and do laundry and didn’t want them to see the squalor we usually live in) and spent lots of time with the McMaos.
Saturday and Sunday were spent hanging around the house, watching the TV coverage and reading. Our friends Jean and Robert came over to do some laundry and shower on Sunday, so we visited with them, which was nice.
At this point, it sounds like a lot of Huntsville and Madison has power back. Fred’s mother and stepfather don’t yet, and will be over in a bit to shower and do some laundry. Our internet and phone access is coming and going and I’m not honestly sure whether I’ll be able to get this posted, but we shall see.
In any case, I wanted you guys to know that we are just fine, that we were very very very lucky (not only that the tornado missed us, but also that we had power almost the entire time!) and all is okay here at Crooked Acres.
A few people asked about the garden, which we just got planted last weekend. I don’t know. I haven’t been over there. I can’t stand to go look at it. Fred reported that the tomato plants are turning yellow, no doubt because of the water saturating the ground. I’m refusing to look at it myself until at least this weekend. This may be the year we just flat out refuse to do a garden. I don’t know.
I got word that Challenger’s House is okay (they may have power back now; I’m certainly hoping so). For those wishing to donate to relief efforts, I believe at this point that your best bet is to donate to the Red Cross. They’re coordinating everything and can always use money donations. Your thoughts and prayers for the families who have lost their homes and loved ones are always appreciated, too.
During the time we were without internet, the McMaos have learned all KINDS of new tricks. They have learned:
1. How to use the litter boxes. I set up small litter boxes, filled with play clay (not clumping) litter. They’re not all using the litter boxes, and they’re not all using the litter boxes all the time, but the litter boxes are, for sure, getting some definite use. And this morning was the first time that I went in and saw that not only was there pee in the little litter boxes, but someone had pooped, too. Awwww.
2. How to climb. They’re climbing the little cat tree in the foster room like tree-climbing champs.
3. How to play with toys – Fergus Simon, especially, can bat the heck out of a jingly ball.
4. How to eat. Fergus Simon, Finnegan, and Declan have all been spotted eating some kibble and drinking water. They’re still depending on Maggie for most of their intake, I believe, but they’re certainly moving in the right direction!
I got a TON of pictures and videos for y’all, but for now I’m just going to post some of the pictures and get this posted. It’s getting late!
Assuming that our internet stays up, I’ll be posting as usual in the mornings from here on out.
2010: No entry.
2009: No entry.
2008: (Side note: If your heart doesn’t melt and pour out your belly button when Kara rubs her face against Kaylee, there is no hope for you.)
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.