Tornadoes have a way of literally wrecking havoc to entire towns and cities. Last week, w/ all the bad weather hitting Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and a few other states, every other story on the news was about some tornado(s) and what had been destroyed and who had been killed or barely made it out alive.
I remember as a young girl - I was prob about 7 or 8 - me, my mom and my step dad were driving back from Clarksville (my mom says), from a day of shopping, and on our way back home, we passed homes on the highway w/ very odd things sitting in their front yards or some type of destruction to some of the houses - - come to find out, we were following home a tornado and we didn't even know it.
As we made our way to Hanover - where we lived - the entire city/town was in complete and utter chaos. Utility poles were on the ground, buildings had been completely destroyed. Their roofs were gone, sides of buildings were missing and most roads were unpassable. I remember my mom getting really upset as we drove thru the town to get to our house. There were hardly any bldgs left standing and people were everywhere.
It was a terrifying sight, especially seeing this as a small child - it's a memory that will stay w/ me forever. We had left our dog outside that day and I can remember being so afraid for him. I didn't know what had happened to our town, but I knew that whatever it was, it was really bad.
When we finally made it to our street.... my eyes flooded w/ fear as I saw one house after another - gone. Nothing was left. All the streets and yards were filled w/ debris. The only house left standing on our street was ours and the little white church next to our house. That was it. Everything else had been flattened. I remember jumping out of the car and running to see if our dog was okay. Thankfully he was. I loved that dog.
My brother, who had stayed home that day, was no where to be seen. I don't remember too much about what he was doing that day (altho I was told more later in life).... but I know that when he came home he told my mom and step dad horrible stories about what he had seen. He had been helping to pull out dead bodies from underneath the houses on the streets behind where we lived.
We couldn't use the telephones because all the lines were down - and there were NO cell phones back then. There was no electricity - most power lines were down. My older sister and brother were married and lived in Madison and we had no way of getting ahold of them to know if they were safe. It was hours before we heard from anyone. All of our family - aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents - lived in Madison. We didn't know if Madison looked like Hanover or if it was worse.... or what.
I was so afraid and when it got dark that night, I remember trying to sleep on the couch downstairs but being so scared that whatever that was would come back and kill us all. I had no idea what a tornado was - I only saw what they could do and it terrified me to no end. I spent most of my childhood being desperately afraid of tornadoes after that. I'd get horrible nose bleeds every time the sirens would go off when a tornado was coming.
The tornado didn't come back that night, but the pain and heartache from what it left us would take a long time to heal. My mom, at some point, finally heard from my older sister and brother, so we knew they were okay. And luckily, no one else in our family was hurt. One of my older cousins' offices had been destroyed - she worked in Hanover. Actually, Madison hadn't been hit by the tornado like Hanover. They had some damage, but nothing like what I saw on our street and in our town that day.
The town got rebuilt and the townsppl went on w/ their lives... we did too. We moved back to Madison and I can happily say that I never saw destruction like that again, but... there were many times when they would get close.
Seems like now, every time I hear about a tornado or see one on TV, I always remember that day.