weekend update: today we are thankful.

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It started out as a rainy weekend. Typical for Florida, and nothing to be worried about. At first.

We worked for a few hours at the shop Saturday morning, then I spent the afternoon drinking wine on my couch and watching an all-day marathon of Gossip Girl on Netflix. In the name of research. Those Upper-East-Siders have incredible floral arrangements!

On Sunday morning we woke up to more rain, but bare cupboards necessitated a soggy trip to the grocery store to restock; including picking up supplies for Jen’s S’mores. I dominated Publix with coupons and a well-planned shopping list and saved $80, but came home completely soaked to the skin. Later, we snuggled up to watch I Love Lucy and took a lovely mid-rain siesta before heading to our friends Zane and Lauren’s house for dinner. Lauren’s part of a community visioning initiative for our hometown, so we helped her with a brainstorming sesh over drinks and snacks. After dinner, we moved the party to the living room, where we watched TV while devouring my friend Lisa’s amazing gluten-free chocolate cookies — a recipe I’ll be sure to share later — and those s’mores. The news kept breaking in with severe weather alerts for the Gulf coast from Tropical Storm Debby, including dangerous driving conditions and tornado warnings. We didn’t pay much attention because it all seemed so far away, until Chad’s phone started blowing up with text messages from concerned friends and family who heard a tornado was spotted in our neighborhood.

Let me break here and say, we Floridians ain’t skeered of a little bad weather. We’re accustomed to tropical storms, and even hold our own through major hurricanes. Most of us have a stash of emergency supplies in case we lose power for a day (or five, like the days of Charlie and Francis in 2005) and hurricane parties are kind of fun. But tornados are a whole different ball game. They’re unpredictable, random, incredibly destructive, and utterly terrifying.

Along with those text messages, we received this photo, taken by a nearby neighbor:

{photo taken from theledger.com, one of several tornados that hit our community last night}

Of our small group, more than half of us live within in a five-mile radius of each other on this same lake. Our parents live there, too. After about an hour of letting the storm calm, we — probably against our better judgement — hopped in our cars and headed home to assess the damage. The storm knocked out power all across town, and driving home in total blackness didn’t help ease the anxiety of what may be waiting for us at our house. We passed firetrucks, dozens of police, and service trucks from the electric company, all trying to assess the damage in pitch darkness and relentless rain. When we passed the gates of our neighborhood, we relaxed a little when we realized there wasn’t any large debris or damaged property. Our home was completely unscathed, but powerless. Praise God. We lit some candles, called all of our family and friends to make sure everyone was safe, and didn’t open the refrigerator in an effort to save all those groceries I’d just bought.

I couldn’t reach my parents. They live in the area that was reported to have received the most damage. Those hours of not knowing if they were safe were terrible. I finally reached my step-dad early this morning, and they weathered the storm even better than we did; the only thing they lost was cable! Our power didn’t return until 6:30am.

This morning, my facebook news feed was full of updates on the storm. Some people lost their homes. A few people even lost their lives. I’ve hugged my husband twenty times and sent up prayers of gratitude for making it through unharmed. Our home, our business, and everyone that matters to us is safe and sound.

But this isn’t a great start to our storm season…

7 thoughts on “weekend update: today we are thankful.

  1. Actually Hurricane Charley was Aug 13, 2004 and I lost my home and was out for 18 months and one of my neighbors was killed in the storm along with 15 other people and my town of Punta Gorda was destroyed. Please don’t say Hurricane parties are fun as my life and others in the area were completely destroyed. People have no idea the total and complete destruction that families go thru because it is not the top story on the news of they forget and do not realize the people that are still suffering. I still think about how scary it was to sit in my home and hear it be torn apart for hours and it effects me to this day.

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  2. Keira, I live in Orlando but was up in the mountains over the weekend. I heard things were bad but had no idea there were tornados that touched down. Driving home Wednesday I was socked to see the water on both sides of the Turnpike. It was up to the road, I have never seen it that high. I am so happy you are your family were safe. I know first hand how scary that can be and even got chocked up just reading your story. I too am a little nervous about this years Hurricane season. We shall see how it goes, I guess. Xoxo

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  3. I have relatives that are in the Florida coastal area as well and it breaks my heart to see this! So glad y’all are okay. Tornadoes are my WORST fear, I can’t even imagine seeing that and knowing it was in my neighborhood. Praise God for the blessings! (:

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  4. When I used to live in Texas the bugs, the heat, and the loud thunderstorms never scared me… but tornadoes always had me cowering in fear. I’ve been lucky to only see one in my life (and it ended up going back up as quickly as it touched down, yay hill country!), but the green skies and erie darkness after will always stick in my mind! I’m glad you are ok! And woo hoo to no house damage!!

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