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:
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…