Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Morning After

Some of you have kindly asked that I tell what happened after the tornado. So, without further ado, the story continues…

The night of the tornado, our new son-in-law drove us to his parents home. They had heard what had happened and immediately insisted that Joel bring us there to stay until we could figure out our next steps. We had lost all of our cars, clothes and most of our other possessions. It was a strange feeling to lay our heads down that night knowing we had few worldly possessions intact to wake up to in the morning. After twenty-three years of marriage and building our life together, we were truly starting over. Bob and I laid in bed holding one another crying, thanking God for sparing our lives and asking Him to teach us to trust Him for the rest of what was to come.


In the morning, we woke up early but couldn’t eat breakfast. All Bob and I wanted to do was get home. We asked our friends to please drive us back out to the farm and drop us off so we could get started on putting things back in order. Even though everyone at the house that morning tried to talk us into taking the day off to rest, we insisted we just needed to get home and start cleaning up. Against everyone’s better judgment, we were driven the eight miles out County Line and dropped off.


Bob and I stood in front of the house as the car drove away, leaving us alone to face the devastation of the previous night. The house was little more than a shell and our belongings were strewn for miles. The chicken coop, well-house, workshop and most of our beautiful trees were gone. Simply and completely gone. Our wonderful, hundred year old barn was no more. Pieces of it were embedded in our cars and house but most of it had vanished. Days later, the cupola would be found mangled in a pasture five miles away. There were even divots on the ground where the tornado had actually touched down.










We never saw any of our poor chickens again. One of our horses was found two miles away, badly cut and bruised but alive. Our other old mare was in shock among the debri. The goats were battered, one losing a leg later on from her injuries. The rest of the animals wandered around dazed, as if in a slow-motion dream.



 
After walking the property inside and out, Bob went to the front of the house, sat on the porch and began to cry. I walked away to where the barn had once stood and stared at the pile of rubble before me. The feeling of exhaustion hit me and I slowly laid down in the red dirt, crying. I didn’t know if I would ever be able to get back up. I’m not sure how long we remained at our separate spots, each fearful and yet not wanting to admit it to the other. It seemed like hours and yet was probably merely minutes.

Eventually, we both became aware of a car pulling into our gravel driveway. As the two of us stood and headed towards the unknown visitor, another car pulled into our drive. Then another and another and another until there were more cars than we could count. They filled our driveway and lined our road for about a half a mile. People we knew well, some we slightly recognized from our small town and some we had never seen before were leaving their cars and walking up the road to our property. Each person carried something: food, water, tools, generators. You name it, someone had brought it.




With few words, people began hauling our animals to their farms. Chainsaws began cutting away the twisted mess that lay before us. Farmers with tractors and trailers cleared away metal and pushed debri into huge burn piles. The entire high school senior class showed up with the principal, each person carrying several empty boxes, hoping to collect as many of our belongings as possible. A man we had never met before had offered free storage for whatever they could gather. Bob and I were completely useless. We stood and wept for the most part.

You can’t keep a secret in a small town. Our little Oklahoma community had heard of our sorrow that morning and had done what Oklahomans always do. They reached out to their neighbor, carried some of the burden, refused any thanks and quietly went on their way. These acts of kindness would continue for much longer than we could have ever imagined.

To Be Continued….

30 comments:

Two Shades of Pink said...

Too many tears to write more words. Those precious people were the hands and feet of Jesus.

TechnoBabe said...

Oh my goodness, this is wonderful and so sad too. Thank you for sharing the real details and I look forward to the rest of the story.

Sarah said...

how wonderful that people pull together to help out who needed it. it gives me hope in mankind.

Ms. Anthropy said...

I've told hubby about you, before. He was sitting here, when I got to this post and I read it to him. He asked if I could print out a copy, so he could take it to work. You should feel quite honored... he doesn't even read my blog!

Deborah said...

Totally gives hope for the human condition.

Makes me feel small and large at the same time. We can make a change with so little!

Mommy Lisa said...

Awesome

Parsley said...

AHH...I'm crying! That's so beautiful. In the middle of that horrible, horrible destruction, beauty in people showed through. Sobbing....I need a tissue.

Monkey Man said...

What a story. I can't imagine how you must have felt.

Coby said...

Wow. I can't even imagine. Every time I see natural disasters on the news, I always wonder, "How do you just rebuild after something like that?"

It's so wonderful how the community pulled together to help.

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

small town life has its definite advantages! your story brings tears to my eyes as i picture the "neighbors" and strangers all coming together to show the love of God to you.

Respectfully Yours said...

I have nothing to offer but prayers my dear. May God bless you and your family...HUGS

Brian Miller said...

it still gives me shivers...beautiful and scary...

Marla said...

This post makes me proud to be an Oklahoman. :)

Marla @ www.asthefarmturns.wordpress.com

Libbie said...

Oh, how can you keep us waiting for the next part! Wow! I do love when a terrible story goes good! Marla your life is such a story. I am so glad you are recording it here...& sharing it with us.

I also loved the story about your neighbor girl! That is so sweet! What a lucky little girl...she is sitting in my morning coffee chair! :)

Andrew Swansson said...

My mind can not even begin to understand what you went through.

Could you please allow us to keep walking with you .... ( can't find the words )

Did you rebuild ? Did you stay ?

Amarja said...

wauwh Marla, I did not know this part of the story. How wonderfull that people helped. This story need to be told more around communities as an example how neighbours can be there for each other.

Oklahoma Granny said...

Oklahoma folks are a wonderful, giving, compassionate people.

Frau said...

I'm crying tears of happiness that people have kind hearts but sadness in the pain I know you endured. My heart aches....

Auntie Cake said...

What a wonderful story of kindness shown amidst a horrific tragedy. I can't stand it, you really need to write a book!
Kate

Nicole said...

Such a wonderful story. Shows the true beauty that can be within people.

Speaking of true beauty within - I can't stand the dog and I'm thinking of taking him back. I could ship him to you if you like - a coonhound would be great on a farm! :)

ModernMom said...

I am now commenting with tears streaming down my face. It is heart warming to know that there are still good people out there, and again, that you survived....

Unknown Mami said...

Thank you so much for sharing this story. I am sobbing. People can be sooo good sometimes. It's good to be reminded.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Whoa, what a story and the photos-- OMG. How scary.

xoxo

Enchanted Oak said...

Thank God for your loving community. I'm in awe, as I know you were that morning. There is so much about humanity that is good.

Erin said...

Can't wait to hear the rest of the story! Just proves that people are really good at heart!

sheri... said...

i find myself speechless after reading your post this morning. its hard to imagine such tragedy yet you write in such a way that i can begin to grasp it. i thank God for good people, folks who are willing to step in and help. i am grateful that you and hubby made it out alive!

marci-me said...

Amazing! I always cry when I read these stories, and its when the community comes in, with no fuss, willing to pick up the pieces while you are still in shock, that hits me the hardest - lovely!

M

Okie Book Woman said...

Like everyone else, I'm sitting here with tears running down my face. Beautiful! Oklahoma has so many loving people. The state has its faults, but I don't think you could find better people anywhere.

Marla said...

Nicole ~ We have a Redbone Coonhound named Ruby. Send him on over!

Lily Robinson said...

OK, now my shirt's wet! God was definitely there with you! He always finds someone to send...

I'm off to read the next one...