This week has been hard. It’s been nothing other than Crisis Management.
Sunday night I didn’t sleep at all. Hubbs ran up to the church after we got settled at home to help with people coming in needing a place to stay. Sirens blared all night from firetrucks and ambulances. We had emergency medical crews coming in from over two hours away. I finally went to bed at one in the morning when Hubbs finally got home from taking a load of emergency supplies up to the church for people. Every single time I would start to get remotely comfortable, a helicopter would be making a pass to transfer people to further hospitals or to be bringing people in, the sirens would blast from the ambulances as they were transporting the injured to area hospitals. And then the wind would blow. The wind was the worst. I would wait for another tornado in that wind.
At about three that morning, the sirens started to wind down. The quiet was eerie. It felt ominous. But it was starting to get quieter.
And that is the time I started to wish we had a gun. I know that in past disasters, people like to loot through the damaged homes and businesses. While we weren’t damaged, what was going to stop someone from trying to get into our home? All the lights were off. Our old dog is going deaf. So then every leaf rattle, every shadow felt like someone was trying to break into our home. I was so glad to see the sunlight come.
On Monday the girls wouldn’t leave my side. I don’t blame them. They had been through what was for them the worst storm of their lives (ok, it was the worst storm of my life, and yes, I had been through tornadoes before). They knew Mom and Dad weren’t themselves. They knew that Dad left early Monday morning for work (before they got up). And they had heard talking on the radio about all sorts of things that no one should ever have to hear be said. Things about death tolls, boil orders, destruction.
Honestly, Monday took forever to get over. It was by far the longest, most terrible day of my life. Hubbs was out at the church trying to help with the set up of the shelter we were putting up. And then he had to go to his store and try to salvage what they could from it. He got home at eight that night. That day was horrible. He left before the girls were totally awake and cognant. All day long, the Beans begged for her daddy to come home and to take us to visit Grandma where it was safe. The Bugs asked if her daddy was in heaven since he wasn’t with us and we had that bad storm. It stormed all day long on top of it. With each clap of thunder, the girls would dive onto my lap, trying to seek safety. All they knew from the night before was that the bad storm destroyed buildings and people got hurt.
Monday night was long. But at least I slept.
Tuesday I get some stuff together and decide I am going to bake cinnamon rolls for those at the church. I took Hubbs up to his boss’s house for a meeting and on the way there, Beans gets carsick. So we stop at the Webb City Wal-Mart for a quick change of clothes and to get a few more items for the cinnamon rolls. That night we stay at the church to supervise those who are staying in our shelter. That night was also the night we were all sent scurrying for shelter as the storms that ripped across Oklahoma and produced tornadoes there came through. Hubbs was hungry (he hadn’t eaten that day) so he checked the weather and decided to run over to Pizza Hut. Right after they put his order in to cook, the tornado sirens go off again. About fifty people ended up in the hallway at church while Hubbs was in the freezer and then the restroom of Pizza Hut. We texted each other the entire time. I was so furious at him for being gone during it. When he got back, I cried for quite a while. It was the first time I had cried since the tornado.
On Wednesday morning, we got woken up by a knock on the church door at six a.m. It was a few guys from over by Tulsa who had a load of bottled water and a generator for us. I then made the cinnamon rolls. I then get put in charge of the kitchen by default by being in there and them needing someone to do it. I’ve been in there ever since. Let me tell you, ending up in charge of a kitchen when you’re my age and all your helpers well exceed twice your age can be ugly. Very ugly…However, the work was done. I have no idea how many people we have fed thus far. I know it has been over 200 a day. Tomorrow I’m in the kitchen again for the last time. Starting Monday I’m in charge of running childcare. I should be putting that together instead of blogging actually.
I have lost track of what day it is. This week has been an eternity. In fact, I totally forgot my Dad’s birthday. I’m sorry Dad. I did call him tonight on our way home from the church. I’m lucky if I remember my own name anymore without having to glance at my volunteer name badge…I am beyond exhausted. We all are.
I am hoping that I can still get to Wichita for the Homeschooling convention I have a ticket to next weekend. I need the break. Transportation is very much an issue though. We’ll see. Poor Hubbs will be here on the home front dealing with work and relief work though. I feel bad for even thinking of getting away for a few days.
I haven’t been to see the devastation yet. I don’t want to do it. I want the next time I drive down Range Line for it to be the Range Line I know. I guess part of me is like all the photos I’ve seen are the results of some great photo editing work. But I know that it’s not. I don’t want the new reality. I’ve had enough of it. I’ve had enough of being in the kitchen cooking and supervising meals for countless people streaming in. I’ve had enough of not seeing my girls all day. I’ve had more than enough of the girls having crying fits over things that don’t normally bother them. And when the girls were watching Toy Story 1 with a teen from the youth group (I had just joined them after not getting to see them all day yesterday) Bugs jumped when some thunder was in the movie. Her eyes got big and she asked with a panicky sound in her voice if it was real thunder or just the movie. How long will their insecurity last? How long until they feel safe again? How long until we can live our lives normally again?
Alas, the normal we knew is a fading memory. We are forging a new path. One of doing the massive job that needs to be done. Of doing clean up, and meals and childcare. Of not having the stores we are used to. Of not taking things for granted like we did.
A friend of mine is a professional photographer. She does amazing work. At first she wasn’t going to go out and take pictures of the devastation. Yet on Wednesday she finally went out with her camera. She posted some amazing pictures on her blog. And some stories. Please go visit Whitney’s blog. It will help you put faces to our tragedy, in a way I never could.
Please continue to pray for us. Pray for the peace to come to the children. Pray for our endurance as we try to run this marathon of clean-up and rebuilding at the pace of a sprint. Just pray. Thank you..