Storms Rattle Entire Country Even When We Aren’t There

January 2009 ice storm by Mary Nida Smith

As of this writing, the East Coast of the U.S. is still there. By the time you read this in the morning, who knows.

At least that’s what the weather stations would have us believe.

For days now, we’ve been watching the impending monster, or “Frankenstorm” make its way to the Northeast. Friends have been posting on social media with increasing hysteria.

Not to minimize the fears in any way, but if people have prepared as much as possible and evacuated areas in which it was recommended, they’ve done the best they can.

Still, I know the worry and anxiety that builds during such an event.

As lifelong Midwesterners, we’ve been through many a tornado warning. Sometimes we have several hours to watch super cells twist our way, most of the time, however, it is only minutes.

I’ve had the occasion to see and cover tornado ravaged towns such as Tonganoxie, Kansas; Cotter, Arkansas and Joplin, Missouri.

The worst disaster we’ve seen here in the Ozark Mountains since moving here was the monster ice storm in 2009, which ultimately left millions without power across the Midwest and southeast.

We did prepare for the storm, getting in extra groceries, batteries, candles and wood for the stove. But we also had never been through an ice storm in such a rural area.

I remember telling our neighbor that you would think the apocalypse was bearing down on us, given the dire predictions we were hearing the day before the storm.

That night, we realized what a destructive ice storm was all about as we laid in bed and listened to trees crack and fall all night long.

It sounded as though we were in a war zone with gun fire and we truly didn’t know how many trees would be left standing the next morning.

The next day and for ten days afterward, we were without power. The landscape was never the same.

Nature can be a powerful force and we can only hope that all of our neighbors to our east have heeded the warnings and prepared as best they could.

The landscape will never be the same, as it never is, but as long as people remain safe, that is the important thing.

What is the worst natural disaster that you’ve encountered?   


You may also like...

26 Responses

  1. merr says:

    It doesn’t seem like much now, but El Nino in 1992-1993 seemed massive. Looking at the super-storm Sandy on tv, El Nino seems like a distant cousin to it.

  2. Elaine says:

    I’ve been in an earthquake (Napa) a tsunami,(Hawaii) tornado (Georgia) and Hurricane Irene. I live in NJ but was out of the country when Sandy hit. We lost power for 14 hours and there are trees down everywhere but nothing compared to the Jersey shore. I was there yesterday and the devastation is unimaginable. No picture can do it justice. Couldn’t get close to the boardwalk area since the National Guard is preventing people from going over the bridge but from what I’ve been told it is destroyed. This will be a long recovery. We usually have the mildest weather and the least weather related disasters but this storm changed that.

    • Kerri says:

      It sounds horrible, Elaine. From the tornado and fire disasters I’ve covered, pictures and even video cannot convey the full impact on the ground. I was once an assistant manager of an apartment complex that burned. The fire started on the roof from a bottle rocket and of course, the top floor was completely destroyed, save for one wall in one apartment where a clock was still keeping perfect timing. It was the eeriest thing, walking up the stairs, looking up and seeing sky where there should have been a roof and then hearing that clock ticking.

  3. Leah says:

    I grew up in the middle of Tornado Alley. Thankfully we never experienced any more than ripped up fencing and missing shingles, though our elementary school didn’t fair well back when I was six. Last year my Inlaws and little brother-in-law were a direct hit for a tornado through OK. They just made it by two minutes into the storm shelter with everyone, but poor Freckles the beagle, who they couldn’t find. Everything was gone. Father-in-law had to hang onto the door to the storm shelter for a bit. They were so so lucky they had those few minutes they did to get from the car into the house and out the back into the shelter.
    A poor family just a few miles over was not so lucky. They lost their 3 year old son and their 15 month old son. My heart still aches for them over a year later.

  4. Hurricane Sandy by far was the worst. The night the storm hit, we almost got slammed by three different trees as we tried to flee to our house. (The trees ended up falling on the houses all around us, knocking out the roofs, flattening cars and breaking windows. We’ve been without heat or lights for 7 days and the temperature in our house is 48 degrees. But so many are much worse off than we are.

  5. Carol says:

    I lived in Sylmar, the epicenter of the 1971 earthquake. No prep for that, it’s just here. Our house was pretty much okay, but my mom was hit by a bookcase that she was using as a headboard and had a concussion. The great thing was that it held an Encylopedia Britanica that she had taken all of the books out the night before. It was a pretty rough time for a few days, back then everything was still in bottles, bleach, lysol,…so, of course, they broke and were not available. And the liquor store up the street…you could smell the booze for miles 🙂

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, I bet you could get drunk off of the smell, Carol! No warnings for earthquakes for sure, but people in those zones can still prepare with emergency kits and supplies.

  6. Mary Brown says:

    Well, I’m in NJ and Sandy did get here and do a lot of damage. My family is safe but the a tree fell on the neighbors house and the husband was killed in his sleep, the wife didn’t have a thing land on her, they were married 55 years.

    They are saying we will have power, heat, TV, internet and phone by Nov 11th. I’m renting and there isn’t a wood stove or anything so it’s 42 degrees inside and cooking is on the camp stove which is nice to have. We have what we need to stay comfortable enough to get by though.
    Gasoline is hard to come by and will go to odd/even days starting tomorrow but I’m staying home or was ableto walk were I needed to go but my husband did need to get to work. He works close and we filled the tanks before hand.

    I volunteer for the Red Cross and all shelters were closed as of yesterday in this area since there wasn’t any flooding here. Working at the Red Cross has made it easy for me to stayed prepared for anything. I/m on the Disaster team and deploy prior to a disaster so I’m on the ground to help from the first moment so I’ve seen a lot.

    Stay safe it’s the most important thing, everything is replaceable

  7. Kerry Dexter says:

    hurricanes, yes; tropical storms with heavy flooding, yes, ice storms, yes, blizzards, yes. tornado warnings, yes, but have yet to be in the path of a tornado — seen a few scary ones too close, though.

    have lived withou power in consquence of storms at tiems for several weeks and in living spaces affected by flooding for several months at a time. always a challenge

    I do not fear weather but all that experience means that I do not take it lightly, either. I was not in the path of this storm but people I care about were, glad to say they are all well.

    • Kerri says:

      I’m glad your loved ones are well too, Kerry! I do not think we need to fear the weather, but I think we need to have a very healthy respect for it. It is up to all of us to read up on being prepared.

  8. Growing up we had frequent tornado warnings and blizzards. I do believe in at least trying to be prepared. I used to be better about it but I’ve become lax over the last few years. Frankenstorm was a good reminder for me that I need to get organized again (figure out where I stowed my 72-hour kits)

  9. I’ve never experienced anything as devastating as Sandy. Even though we aren’t in the eye of the storm, all our roads are unpassable with downed trees and electrical wires. Schools are closed for a week so far. No cell phone service or cable. Can’t imagine what it must be like to have been evacuated from lower Manhattan.


  10. I’ve had 2. The Blizzard of ’77 when we were stranded with no power or running water and snow up over the windows, and the October surprise storm about 5 years ago when we got snow in early October. It brought tons and tons of trees down. No power for a week. COmpletely changed our landscape. Big storms are scary.

  11. Alexandra says:

    This storm felt like a warning to everyone on Cape Cod. We had no damage this time, but a similar storm, hitting our coasts, could be devastating. Having lived for five days without power after Irene, I can sympathize with all those who have lost electricity, but it is hard to imagine what it is like to lose one’s home to a monster storm. It seems that hurricanes need to be taken more seriously, and that our house may have survived many since the 1700s, but who knows what the future may bring? I hope that politicians will acknowledge climate change/global warming and start looking for solutions. I hope this will be the conclusion many reach after the east coast finishes cleaning up after the “Superstorm.”

  12. Elaine says:

    No matter where you live on this planet, there is something that mother nature can throw at you. It is the result of living on a vibrant earth. A good thing.

    But unless the media and local officials make a big deal out of it, human nature is to ignore the threat. Hence all the posturing in advance. We do have the advantage most of the time of being prepared. We did have an earthquake of decent size, but no real damage.

    I live on the east coast and was right in the path of that storm. I don’t live in a flood area (wouldn’t do that intentionally). And I was a bit worried. Mostly about the trees that surround our house and could “visit” during such a storm as Sandy. It didn’t happen.

    But I feel greatly for anyone who had a problem – beyond power outage.

  13. I grew up with weathing hurricanes, each season. The preparation process truly became second nature. After I married, my husband was often deployed or on a Hurri-Vac crew, so I rode out many storms (and that included Winter storms, Nor’Easters) on my own (with or without children). Keeping in contact with neighbors, other military families that were also home.. that was critically important (a bit more challenging before the mainstream days of cell phone/internet/social media use).