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» Hatrack River Forum » Archives » Landmark Threads » 4,000th post, or, A Tornado Ripped Through my Neighborhood

   
Author Topic: 4,000th post, or, A Tornado Ripped Through my Neighborhood
JohnKeats
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[final login]

It all started in Best Buy.

I was looking at televisions and stereos when an employee walked up to me and said: "Excuse me sir, but there's a tornado warning for our area and we're asking everyone to gather in the back of the store." So I go to join the other patrons. I get to the crowd, knowing that a flimsy aluminum and steel building packed with small and heavy electronics was surely the worst place to be. Hail falls. I worry about the car. I think how unhappy I would be to die in this moment, surrounded by strangers, 99% of my dreams unfulfilled.

Fifteen minutes later the hail stops and we're all alive. I start making my way to the exit, wanting only to go home and make sure my family is okay. The power goes out, and a manager directs me back to the crowd. I choose not to make a scene and return to my place. Perhaps another twenty minutes go by before they let us go. They don't allow us to make any purchases, as there is no electricity.

The car is undamaged. There are golf ball sized pieces of ice lying next to it on the ground. I am elated. I start up the engine and head for home, keeping an eye on the sky. It's a beautiful day. Huge white cliffs and plateaus are rolling thousands of feet above me in the air. I am overwhelmed with relief. It's about a twenty minute drive back to my house.

Or so I thought.

I get within two miles of my house and start noticing lots of trash on the ground. Debris. Pieces of homes scattered across grassy fields. A short hill later and I see the truth of the situation. The road is blocked by trees, telephone poles and cars. Lots of cars. Houses have been destroyed. I get as close as possible and start to get out. I want to help someone. There's got to be something I can do. Instead, an officer pulls up next to me and orders me-not kindly, I might add-to go back the other way. I comply. When I get back to the closest intersection there is a Kansas City Police Mobile Command Unit coming over the hill, blaring its sirens. Over the speaker I hear a warning. Another tornado is headed this way. They were telling us (by now a traffic jam was forming) to take shelter.

I have to get home. I realize it may not even be there. The traffic jam is getting worse. If there's anything worse than dying in the back of a blacked out Best Buy with a bunch of strangers, it's dying in the middle of a traffic jam.

I know my city, so I take a back road, intending to go around the tornado's path. Little did I know how impossible that was. A few more blocks and I was in the exact same situation, only worse. Every single road that I turned down was blocked by trees, cars and houses. Power lines were lying everywhere. More traffic was jamming up.

I am in a disaster film. Houses everywhere are completely destroyed. This is utter devastation. I have never seen anything like it. I am driving through a war-ravaged city, and people are everywhere, walking around like zombies. And of course the tornado sirens are blaring, while I'm stuck in a traffic jam trying to get to my house, even though I'm starting to doubt that it's even there anymore. I eventually have to go back the way I came. The only way home was to go all the way around Clay County and approach from the other direction (south), hoping that the Tornado didn't get that far. It's another forty-five minutes before I get close, after having to wait through the fustercluck of traffic.

It turns out that my street was completely undamaged. It is only two blocks away from what looks like the end of the world. My house is safe and my parents are alive. Relief was the word of the moment. Not just the kind where you sigh and loose your emotional tension, but the kind where an impossible future seems suddenly inevitable, and at the last moment is avoided. But there is little joy because you know that there were many who were not so lucky.

I walked back up to the battlefield to help. Others were there. Other young men like me, wandering around looking for something to help with. But it was overwhelmingly obvious that there was very little we could do.

I started clearing a street. I spent an hour or so putting a man's house back in his front yard. Others began helping me and we made a lot of progress. I am exhausted today because of the work of yesterday. And that was just a few hours of my time. I can't even imagine how it would feel to have my whole life turned upside down like that.

Actually I DID imagine it, when I was trying so hard just to make it home.

I don't know why I decided to make a 4,000th post. If anyone was paying attention, I purposefully switched back to my original SN just to avoid having to tell my life story. But yesterday shook me. And I'm retiring this name that I've borrowed from another tragic life for good. I want to face the troubles of the world and overcome them, rather than be at their mercy.

Though I do not know the way.

[log out]

[ May 06, 2003, 11:14 AM: Message edited by: JohnKeats ]

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Wendybird
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Wow. I saw a little of the news footage. It looks horrible. I am glad you and your family are okay and that you are helping out those less fortunate.
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Mrs.M
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I've been through 2 major hurricanes, so I know exactly how you feel. It's indescribably surreal.

I'm so glad that you and your family are safe.

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Vampyr1818
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Reminds me of that huge hurricane we had in Central Florida, a couple years ago that was supposed to cause a ton of devastation and destruction. It passed right by us. I slept in a closet for nothing.
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Jenny Gardener
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Caleb, you are a hero to me. Though you know not the way. Thank you for being kind and caring and a light shining in the darkness. Thank goodness you were not hurt, nor your loved ones. Big hugs your way, and if there's anything the Hatrack Community can do to help yours, please let us know.
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Dragon
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[Eek!] I'm glad you're ok!
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Jeni
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I'm glad you're all right, Caleb. I had been wondering about Hatrackers in that area.
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ClaudiaTherese
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Caleb, well done.
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Maethoriell
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DUDE!! Thank goodness you didn't get hurt!

I'm sorry..

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*
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Wow, I can't even imagine that drive home. So glad that you and your parents are fine.

-Myr

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Troubadour
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Thanks for posting Caleb - puts as sense of perspective onto everyday life for the rest of us....
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T_Smith
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Caleb, glad you are Ok. Thanks, dude. I've been thinking lately of things I haven't said that I should to people and it occurred to me that I might not have fully thanked you. Again, thanks. Thanks for offering a little help to those who needed it.
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Kayla
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Yay Caleb. I was wondering how you fared. [Big Grin] It was good to see you post. I was thinking of you last night while watching the storms form.
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porcelain girl
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i, too, am grateful for your safety, caleb.

but i share your feelings for those who have lost much.
i am careful not to complain about my circumstances, no matter how crappy they seem at the moment, because a tornado could always take my house, my mother, or a dear friend away.
[Frown]
*sigh*
i pray for a quick recovery.

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Kayla
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Oh, and you know what's really annoying? After a night like last night, today they had the nerve to test the tornado sirens. Like we aren't all on edge to begin with!
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Zalmoxis
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quote:
 
KEEN, fitful gusts are whisp’ring here and there
  Among the bushes half leafless, and dry;
  The stars look very cold about the sky,
And I have many miles on foot to fare.
Yet feel I little of the cool bleak air,         
  Or of the dead leaves rustling drearily,
  Or of those silver lamps that burn on high,
Or of the distance from home’s pleasant lair:
For I am brimfull of the friendliness
  That in a little cottage I have found;         
Of fair-hair’d Milton’s eloquent distress,
  And all his love for gentle Lycid drown’d;
Of lovely Laura in her light green dress,
  And faithful Petrarch gloriously crown’d.

A lovely account.

You feeled more than a little, but the phrases 'fitful gusts' and 'brimfull of ... friendliness" seem to apply.

Farewell, JK. Although I was a lurker when this incarnation began, I always enjoyed it. And admittedly was a little jealous---I mean, I wish I had thought of taking on the name of an English Romantic first. Of course, I would have been "William Blake."

Thanks, Caleb.

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Ophelia
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Wow. I'm glad you're okay, Caleb. That was a powerful post.
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katharina
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My Bob, that's wild. I'm so glad you are okay!
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TheTick
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I was also worried about Jatraqueros in that area. That's an amazing story, and I'm glad to hear you're okay.
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Olivet
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(((Caleb)))

I'm also glad you are okay, young man. Keep in touch, okay?

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Belle
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I love you Caleb, and I mean that. [Smile]

Glad you're okay, I've never come that close to losing my home and family, but I've also seen up close what devastation a tornado brings. It's a horrific sight.

As everyone else said, I'm just glad you and your loved ones are safe.

*hugs*

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celia60
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*hugs*
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Amka
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I'm glad you are OK and your parents are OK.
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Caleb Varns
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Well I was mostly just worried about the furniture set. Would hate to move into my new apartment and not have anything to sit on!

j/k [Smile]

You guys are cool.

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twinky
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Glad you and your family are okay.

I don't think anybody really knows the way, but fortunately there are people who can tell us whether to go left or right when we're setting out [Wink]

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Icarus
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That was beautifully written, Caleb. I went through a similar experience with Hurricane Andrew, except that our house was actually destroyed, and you have captured with amazing realism the sense of confusion and disorganization that prevailed at that time. It's a credit to you how your first thought when you discovered that your house was fine was to find a way to help. I've always felt a certain, i dunno, not exactly guilt, but something like it, when a natural disaster happens and I can't (or simply don't) volunteer my time to help, despite the fact that lots of people volunteered to help us. I was also very touched by the outpouring of help and support that ocurred after Andrew.

Anyhow, congratulations.

I'm glad you finally did post your landmark post.

[Smile]

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Ralphie
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That was a pretty stinking great post, Caleb. You did capture the scene extremely well. I'm glad you and your family is safe, and I'm glad you're there to help others.

You can be my hizzo.

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ginette
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Oh, I saw some of the devastation caused by the tornados on the Dutch television yesterday, I am so glad you're OK! Thanks for sharing and helping.
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Caleb Varns
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*adds 'hizzo' and 'hug magnet' to resume*
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Papa Moose
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Glad things turned out ok for you, Caleb, and I'm entirely unsurprised at your desire to help others. Hey, I wasn't one of those who called, but since your move, is your cell phone number still the same? I've been holding onto it just in case of emergency.

Sad to see the JohnKeats screenname, go, I must admit. As you may remember, Mama Squirrel and I are expecting again. The Ob/Gyn is Dr. John Keats, and somehow that gave me more confidence in him, silly as that is. It also made it feel like our upcoming one was already a Jatraquero.

--Pop

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Dan_raven
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Wow.

Glad you made it safe.

Someone once mentioned that Hatrack is their news source. They claimed anything important was brought up here and debated here.

Your post was the best, most real description of these tornado's I've seen in any medium. And I live not far from where they hit.(30 miles away, last night, a school blew down. No injuries though).

Thanks.

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Caleb Varns
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Papa, my number is still the same for now. I may switch after a while, but I'll keep you appraised of the situation. [Smile]

I have a HUGE smile from your comment about confidence in the doctor. That made my day.

Dan_raven and everyone else: thanks for the compliments.

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Caleb Varns
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Yeah, and I don't get to move till June 1st anyway; the buidling is still being renovated!
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Kayla
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Appraised of the situation?!?

[Razz]

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Papa Moose
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I wasn't gonna say anything about it, Kayla, this being his landmark post and all.... [Wink]
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Caleb Varns
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[Razz]

Give me a break. Even eye mak emistaks some tiems.

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larisse
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Caleb,

Glad you are okay. Best Buy is definitely not a place to be during a storm such as the one you experienced. I'm also glad that your family and home came out relatively unscathed. It's good to know there are people out there like you helping out.

I think the same set of storms hit my area just the other day. We had mostly hail and bad winds, but just a few miles away a subdivision got hit by a tornado. Others were spotted, but I don't think they hit populated areas, thank goodness.

Once again, glad you and yours are safe and sound.

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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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Nice Post. I'm happy you survived to make it.
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Storm Saxon
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I enjoyed reading the post as well. Glad you're o.k., Mr. Varns. [Smile]
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Kayla
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Hey, if I didn't give you a hard time, who would?

It's all out of love, baby.

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