The wind started in the middle of the night on Wednesday night and by Thursday morning early we had lost power and heat. Not knowing how bad the storm truly was I got my children ready for school, bundled them all up like normal, and then piled them all in the car only to realize that my garage door was electric and I didn't how to disengage it. I piled them all out and we decided to walk together to school (across the street)- again not knowing how bad it truly was. We only needed to be outside for about 2 seconds before I realized what a huge mistake I had made. The wind was so strong that it literally took all our effort just to stay upright and in fact did blow Lincoln right over on the sidewalk. I felt like a complete idiot and rushed my children back inside as quickly as I could. I would later find out that winds were being clocked at 120 mph in our neighborhood. AND I HAD TAKEN MY CHILDREN OUTSIDE!! Not one of my shining parenthood moments.
As the day continued we began to gather all of our emergency supplies as it became more and more apparent that we were going to be a long time without power and heat. The good news is we were prepared and it ended up being quite a fun day together huddled around the fire with nothing to do but be together and listen to the wind, which continued well into Thursday night.
Just about bedtime as we were all ready to camp out near the fireplace, our power turned back on and we were able to sleep in our own beds with heat in the house. Friday morning school was canceled for the day because they were still without power as was much of the neighborhood-including all of our surrounding neighbors. The sweet family across the street was still without power and had spent the night in their van (6 girls!) weathering the storm because they could not get the heat going in their RV. When we discovered them we quickly got them all inside and they stayed with us (RV plugged into the house for sleeping) until they got heat and power again on Saturday night. But the most memorable thing about Friday was our drive around the neighborhood to see what the storm had done. It was unforgettable and honestly I felt a little like I was in a war zone. The biggest destruction came from the huge pines trees (200 ft+tall) that fell. Most fell on power or telephone lines but many fell into homes, fences, roads, and cars. And they were everywhere. Somehow we did not lose any trees in our ward but we spent a long time on Thursday watching them sway and pull up by the roots. We were very lucky.
And then Saturday morning- people literally began to flood onto the streets with chainsaws, ladders, saws, gloves, and wheelbarrows. They started cutting and hauling and lifting trees from all the yards. Work that would have taken families weeks to clear away was done in a morning. And everyone was there to help. It was one of the most amazing things I have seen in my life. I can't really even describe the destruction and the disaster that everyone felt on Friday night. And then the determination and effort and the way that everyone pulled together the very next morning was truly incredible to be a part of. By Saturday night the streets were lined with tree debris nearly 10 feet tall on every sidewalk and every lawn up and down the streets of Bountiful.
When we got to church on Sunday morning we were surprised to find everyone gathering in the chapel for a special meeting that had just been called. It was then that we learned that more high winds were on their way and expected to hit us again by 5:00 that evening. Now the problem was those 10 foot high piles that would be blown into homes and cars and streets all over again. Because of this our meetings were canceled for the day and we were all sent to once again go to work and get all of those trees off the sidewalks and to a dumping ground by 5:00. That same flood of people again moved in amazing ways and for hours and hours again on Sunday huge truck loads of trees were taken to the dumping station. Mid-day the dump was full and there was still so much debris left, so they began to load the debris to the church parking lot. The rest of the afternoon we watched a line of trucks about 5 blocks long stream through the church parking lot with load after load of debris.
It is estimated that in our ward alone we lost over 50 trees and in our stake there were about 800 trees lost. Amazing numbers. Amazing to see that many trees on the ground. But most amazing- by Sunday night they were all cut and cleared to a safe place. And even more amazing, not one injury.
The wind came that night and only reached 70 mph this time- it was another long, sleepless night...but safe and everyone fared well.
I've always wondered what it's like after a natural disaster. It's an experience I'll never forget.
Here is what I learned:
- Nature is incredibly powerful.
- Disaster changes our perspective on what is important.
- Going without reminds us what is important.
- Disaster brings people together.
- Disaster can bring out the very best in people.
- Disaster reminds people who their neighbors are and how we should be treating each other.
- People are amazingly resilient and hopeful.
- Life moves on pretty quick
I really did get horrible pictures of it all because it just seemed to be the last thing that we were thinking about in the middle of the chaos, but these give a little glimpse of Sunday afternoon.