The irony being, I was wanting to go to
Tellico, to hike and swim and play in the mountains. I had this plan to drive
up and have a picnic on Saturday, but I knew the only way that was happening
was if we got into the emergency funds and why would there be a picnic-related
The sirens started going off around 4 Wednesday morning. I tried to sleep through them as the sirens go off fairly often this time of year. I looked outside and it was just windy, I already knew thunderstorms were on the way and we had the animals set up for that.
The sirens kept going off.
Matt got up and went to work as usual and the first tornadoes started coming near, we thought the line would pass through and it would be okay-this is all pretty common. His dad called to see if we were okay, said a tornado had come through downtown Cullman. He said it made a path 500 feet across and took everything in the way. Later we found out the old trees in the cemetery had been blown over, pulling up coffins with their roots. Part of the downtown is gone, it's just rubble.
The sun kept coming out between rounds,
every time I thought it was over. Around 3, it got green-dark outside FAST.
It started to hail. We turned on the radio and heard 'Fairview you have 3 minutes,
Eva, you have 6'. We listened and waited, we heard them say, 'Fairview, it's
on top of you now, take cover NOW, you are out of time. Then we heard them say,
'It's made a right turn, it's not going to Eva, it's turned, Eva you are in
the clear.' Then the power went out. Again, I thought it was all over.
Matt was able to get home between systems and we listened in the car as wave after wave kept coming across Alabama. There were more tornadoes tracked that came toward us, but nothing closer than about 3 miles. Which was close enough to hear the roof crack and groan.
Thursday morning, we set about getting the animals taken care of. We checked the house and next door, we tried the phones-down. I had planned to fuel up on the way to Cathy's Thursday and had almost no gas. We ended up in Somerville and sat in line an hour to get $20-4 gallons. That was 1/4 tank. The gas station we fueled up at was in sight of where I lived until I was 7, though there is a parking lot where the house was.
On the way home from that, we ran into Bill and he was heading to Gulf Shores with his family. We gave him the rest of our cash, he gave us a car charger for Matt's phone. We wished each other luck and headed our separate ways.
Back home, the kids were worried, we had been gone a couple of hours looking for gas and they thought we were running to the station by the house. We headed back out to get guinea pig food, Matt forgot it the night before and they had enough for that day left. Foodland was open and they had pig food. We got it and heard on the way out that the 4-way had gas. Back in line, this time for quite a while. We topped off the tank-they were taking $40 cash and we had $38 left (out of Ben's allowance stash) which was all the van could hold.
With a full tank, we went home and finished packing-we had assembled a few days worth of clothes and things in case the house was hit, we hoped we could have some things together. I packed food and filled up all of the water bottles. After seeing Fairview and how the houses in the path were flattened and swirled, I don't know why we thought we could keep a few suitcases together.
I was able to call my father, he told me he was on his way to Reliance, TN when the storms hit and they were back home now. He described the area of Reliance and I instantly wanted to see it, too. Daddy is never wrong about pretty places.
We stayed one more night, eating cereal
to use up some of the almond milk before it went bad. Gina had just hooked us
up with some freezer packs and they were still solid after 24 hours with no
power. I did not have much in the way of cold foods at least.
Thursday morning, we loaded up the car, topped off all the hoppers for the animals, made sure there was water in all the containers and hit the road with what was left of our cold foods, headed for Tellico Plains.