Monday, November 18, 2013

Tornados rip thru my town

It's hard to think about anything but the destructive tornados that ripped through our community yesterday. I'll admit, despite "all the warnings", I had no idea it was coming. We were out of town Friday and all day Saturday. We rolled back into town late Saturday night and went right to bed. I woke up Sunday and headed straight to the gym to teach the morning Spin class. Hubby and the kids watched a DVD movie, so they didn't catch the warnings either.

The tornado's path was wide and dangerous.
Classified as an EF-4 with winds up to 200mph.
Once I was back home, it started to sprinkle and I thought, "Nice, I could really go for a rainy day at home..." The winds picked up and we ran outside to tie down the swinging chair (that bangs against our house during every storm) and gather a few things. I made pancakes for everyone as the storm began. By golly, just as the last pancake left the pan, our power went out. I still thought nothing (serious) of it. Suddenly, the winds got insanely wicked and the sky was a really eery darkness. We live on a long dead-end street. Everyone's garbage (large sheets of drywall!) were flying down the street and slamming into the end house. It was raining so hard that our road looked like a raging river. The local sirens started to flare... from every direction. We shuffled the kids downstairs, and gathered up candles and flashlights.

It was the worst storm I've ever seen... also the shortest. Within 15 minutes, the sun was peeking out and everything was calm. Neighbors were outside gathering thrown debris. Kids were excited, running around and riding up and down the street on their bikes. In just 10 minutes, the sky grew dark again, the wind changed direction and picked up speed. A second round of sirens went off. It was craziness as everyone jetted back into their houses. By now, I heard tornados had touched down in the vicinity. In addition to the rain, huge hail began pounding the house. The kids and I were scared this time. Thankfully for us, it was over quickly with virtually no damage.

Still without power, hubby and I were exhausting our phones trying to figure out what happened in the larger community. (Picture us sitting in our cars, charging phones, listening to the radio reports.) The Illinois River divides the greater Peoria area. We live on the west side; the east side seems to be tornado valley... and yesterday was no exception.
Tornado touchdowns as reported by NPR, with the worst destruction in Washington. 

As photos appeared and destruction reports came in, my heart sank. The seriousness of this storm was real. I slowly learned all my friends and their families were safe, but the damage devistating. The photos are surreal, unable to recognize familiar locations... just widespread rubble. I began to remember the stories my mother shared of the 1974 Oshkosh tornado (my hometown just months before I was born), the destruction, and all the work that went into cleaning/rebuilding that area.

Neighborhoods completely wiped out

Tornados were always something that happened somewhere else.
Today, it hits home.

I've gotten specific requests from several friends of items needed, so today I'll be collecting what I can to donate. It will be a long road back to recovery for these families. Right now, it's so overwhelming. Some can't even get back into their neighborhoods. It's difficult to even know what they need when they've lost everything.

Remember when I bought my new PURPLE Garmin Forerunner 10? I had a perfectly fine green one, but I wanted the color purple. So my friend Vicky bought the used green running watch from me. Sadly, her house is now gone. An attempt at humor, I asked, "What about the green Garmin?" Yes, it's gone too. I can only hope it is found in the rubble, but if not, I'm totally buying her a new one! 

I know many times I see catastrophes on the news and want to help. Sometimes I feel like my small donations to big charities are "lost" and insignificant. I feel the need to help someone more directly. If you feel the same, please consider donating below.
~ Runners Helping Runners ~
100% of Donations made here will be turned into gift cards - specifically for my running friends,
fellow Sole Sisters, whose homes were demolished in the tornado's path on Sunday morning.

Thank You! 
And please continue to pray for all the families
across the Midwest who were hit by the November tornados.

Will you dedicate your RUN MILES today?


  1. I watched the storms and radar yesterday and thought of you guys to as we were in the line of I55 storms and hid in the basement. It's very sobering watching the destruction come from Washington, Diamond and Manhattan.

  2. I too was focused on this all yesterday.


  3. It's so true, you truly can't comprehend the magnitude of damage a storm like that has until it happens to you or you see it for yourself. Glad to hear you and your family are safe. I'll be dedicating my post-work miles to the Midwest today!

  4. Besides donating via pay pal - would you be able to post a list of the most needed items? I would love to send a care package down!

    1. Thanks - I will as I hear. Right now, they are having trouble even getting back into their neighborhoods. I guess once they left, they're not be allowed back in today. ?? Strict security. Time...

  5. I am so sorry for your friend. So scary. Especially for the holidays. If you hear of items needed, post more. I am sure you will because you a good soul, Jess.

  6. Oh girl, so sorry for everything your community is going through! Thank goodness you and your family is safe. Thank you for sharing your story so others can reach out and help.

  7. I live in Ohio... the storms that passed through your state was heading our direction..Last night we were glued to the tv watching the coverage and the warnings and they were saying how the storms, by the time they got to Ohio, were really weakened and I remember thinking "I really hope all of my running friends are ok!! Because I know that you and quite a few others live in Illinois and Indiana and it was pretty bad in Ohio... I saw the first picture in your blog on the news and my mouth dropped open... such a huge storm for just a short amount of time created so much devastation!! I'm glad your safe and I will continue praying for everyone that is dealing with damage and loss from the storms yesterday!!

  8. So so sorry! Keeping your town and your friends in my thoughts!

  9. I'm glad to hear you all are ok! Heartbreaking! Please let me know too if there are items needed that I can send! We have LOTS of baby clothes and would love to bless someone with them!

  10. It is really heartbreaking to see the pictures. Makes me tear up just thinking about it. Bless you for doing what you can to help. =)

  11. It was horrible! We live in Washington and the funnel cloud formed over our neighborhood.......It didn't touch down until about a mile away. You would of never thought the devastation that happened was going to happen! Hundreds of families that my daughter goes to school with lost their homes, Prayers for all affected by the horrific storms yesterday.

  12. Tornados and natural disasters are so scary! Thanks for showing ways people can help!

  13. How awful. My kids and I were just talking about natural disasters the other day and I was assuring them that where we live, tornados don't really happen, so they didn't have to be scared. My heart goes out to everyone in your area. I am so sorry for your neighbors, I can't imagine how terrifying and sad this all is for them (and you). =(

  14. I had no idea about any of this until I went to the gym this morning and saw it on the news. How devastating! I'm so sorry to hear about your friends, but glad your family is OK. The first thing I did when I went in to work this morning was send emails out to my reps to make sure they were all alright because the majority of my districts are in the Midwest. Thankfully my guys were all OK!

  15. So scary! Glad you are ok. A tornado tore apart the town in Louisiana where I lived as a child and it was amazing the devastation.

  16. Oh, Jess. I'm overwhelmed by your pictures. So glad your family is safe and sound.

  17. so glad you and your family are okay, but so scary to have to live through. Amazing how a day can change your life, but at least it sounds like it is just material things for the people you know.

  18. we were just outside of bloomington and had to go into the basement too. this was my first tornado experience, scary. we also kinda made light of it because we hadnt seen the news yet. so very very sad. glad you are ok.


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