This is a continuation of my last post, The Little Girl is Dead.
While on our short vacation, my mind refused me the opportunity to forget about what was going on at home. Instead it kept thinking about that phrase that was etched into my mind that night. I kept running scenarios in my head about my girls; I didn’t like to, but I had to.
I felt bad for everyone who had been affected by this storm, especially the less fortunate ones who lived in that trailer court, right next door to me. They had lost everything, and probably didn’t have insurance. There were many children living there, so many that the schools had 2 buses come for pickup and drop off. We would see them all waiting for the bus in the mornings on our way to work. I still see their faces, and imagine what they must have went through on that eventful night.
I received two phone calls that Saturday while we were in Michigan, our power had been restored! It had been out for around 3 and 1/2 days. We don’t know how many utility poles had to be replaced in total, but it was a large number.
Since I had Internet access, I was always keeping up on the news. Our township trustee had organized a volunteer day, to help with tree & debris cleanup. This made all of us happy, and was the first step in putting my heart and soul to ease. In the end there were a total of 3 volunteer days, but the news that an IU student had disappeared shifted the focus, and the volunteers.
We returned from Michigan on Memorial day, and reality set in. While I had no damage to my home, we had lost about 10 trees; including our beloved apple tree. Many of these trees formed a ‘natural’ fence along my property line. They provided large amounts of shade and oxygen, they were also wrapped in vines. Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a “jack of all trades.” I have had experience in cutting trees since I was about 12, when I helped my then step-dad do just that for a living.
We had already lost our weeping willow tree and a maple tree due to wind and ice storms that occurred earlier in the year, we purchased a chain saw so I could clean them up; I was prepared. Little did I know how difficult the task would be when vines were involved. This was a task I couldn’t handle, this task needed a quantity of experience people.
We decided to get estimates from tree-trimming businesses. I called around 5 companies, only one showed up and gave me an estimate. It was more expensive than we wanted to pay, and under our homeowners insurance deductible. I wasn’t going to feel at ease until this was taken care of; I was literally stuck between a bunch of trees and a hard place.
I turned to our township trustee’s office. I called them and asked for assistance, but let them know that I should be placed on the bottom of their list. I let them know that it was simply downed trees that needed to be cleaned up, there was no damage to my home and that it shouldn’t be a priority. While we could have paid for the cleanup; it would have presented a financial burden that we might have not recovered from.
A few days go by and as I arrived home from class an Mennonite looking fellow was at my house. He said he was surveying what needed to be done; he was assembling a crew. The next day when I arrived home, the trees were almost cleaned up! It was a group of boys and a man. At the time I presumed they were Mennonite, since they used technology. It turns out I was wrong; it was the Worthington Amish Youth Group. I thanked each one of them personally, and asked if they needed anything at all. They requested some water, which I promptly fetched and then they went about their business.
With all the property damage and the trailer court in ruins, I was blown away that they decided to help ME. My whole family is in their debt and are working on a way to pay it forward and show them how much we appreciate what they’ve done for us.
After they finished cleaning up the trees, a larger group, including women went over to the trailer court and assisted cleanup.
The effects of this tornado will be felt and seen for many years to come. Not just from the people (like me) who live where it happened, but by the thousands of travellers that take that section of Highway 45. I went through many years of emotional issues as a child, which I thought had toughened me mentally. I learned the hard way that I was wrong.
While we are mainly healed from this event, our souls will never forget it. That storm took something from me. Even though I don’t exactly know what “it” is, I feel incomplete inside. I don’t know how to move on from this experience. Writing this has certainly helped.