(Written Aug. 11, 2020, after the afternoon storm.) I would start this blog post with some pithy Shakespeare quote, but I don’t know Shakespeare well enough to quote the bard sans Google, and right now I’m pretty isolated.
Not only is the power out, but the cell phone network is apparently overloaded. I can’t Google, can’t phone anybody, can’t watch any TV—which all is OK, as long as, knock on wood, there is no medical emergency. I am just hoping the power comes back on in time to save all of the food in the fridge.
A storm of unusual ferocity blew through Iowa today. A bit after noon, the sky grew dark, our phones (they were working back then) jangled with alerts and the tornado sirens sounded. My wife and I moved our base of operations from the dining room and office where we were working (she in the office, me in the dining room) to the basement.
It was oddly still and dark. And then it was still dark, but not still. Rain started and quickly came down in horizontal sheets. We heard a big crash and then another. Safety demanded that we stay away from windows, but we couldn’t help it, we peered out of our small basement windows at a dim and grey view of wind, leaves, branches. It was amazing how little could be seen—the world disappeared into a howling shroud.
Sound—fury and thunder. The street light across the street first was on in the midday dim, then invisible and later snapped and fallen. The branches of the large ash by the street waiving as if they were saying goodbye, and they were as the tree became uprooted, falling on our vehicles and blocking our driveway.
And it went on and on. I don’t know how long the storm lasted—probably not all that long in the scheme of things, but surely more than 30 minutes. It was impressive how it kept blowing and blowing. We got texts from one daughter, asking if we were OK, and we were, and then the cell phones began to get spotty.
After the big blow, rain sprinkles lingered and there were some thunder booms. We saw brave or foolish neighbors moving about and inspecting the damage. The man who lives to our east has a hole in his roof, courtesy of an ancient, tall maple tree from our backyard that had attempted to play Santa Claus but could not fit down his chimney, so it squashed it and entered the house in a more crude manner.
We were lucky. We are physically unharmed. The many sirens that sounded in our neighborhood, fire trucks racing about, were not for us.
We did get some damage. Our vehicles are a bit dented, but probably serviceable, although it will be days before we can go anywhere—a giant fallen ash tree lies across the driveway.
We saw pieces of siding strewn in the yard. I have not seen any large hole in our house, but it had to come from somewhere—possibly Vinton. There was a wading pool in the backyard that is simply gone—if you hear reports of a blue flying saucer, it may not be aliens but rather a child’s plaything. Big chunks of the back fence have fallen. Our huge old maple will be a lost cause, and possibly at least one of our giant oaks. Our tulip tree, which bloomed for the first time this year, may have also bloomed for the last time—a big part came down and we’ll have to assess if what remains can be left in the ground.
But we are fine. In the next few days, we will discover new systems—who do you call for huge downed trees that you’re too old to move? At least the ash in front belongs to the city of Cedar Rapids, so I don’t have to worry about that one.
Cleanup? It will start soon. The sky is cloudy, but the rain is gone. I’m being lazy, post storm, depending on the battery of a laptop to be able to write this.
And I feel gratitude. 2020 is such a year. A global pandemic. A dysfunctional, divided Congress. A manifestly incompetent president. Black Lives Matter, yet there is looting in Chicago.
In the scheme of things, this is one more hassle that I didn’t need, but little more than that, for me. Still, it hit this city pretty hard. I don’t know the road ahead for cleanup, but on the scale of 2020, this is a sideshow.
We’re OK. I hope you are, too. After the storm, we fumbled around for batteries and got a radio working. Many local stations seem to be off the air—gone with the wind. We’re listening to NPR, and it reported the storm as an Ames and Des Moines event. Marshalltown got hit, with seems horribly unfair as they are still picking up from last year’s tornado. Later, they updated the news with reports from Cedar Rapids, and it seems the storm was indeed a big one. A curfew has been declared.
It just doesn’t seem fair to be hit with one more thing this year. But fairness isn’t what nature is all about. It just is. And so are we, we just are and we are also intact, and for that, God and universe, thank you.