Well, last night we had a tornado here on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage, and it was a doozy -- at least for up here where tornadoes aren't often seen. The experience was like something out of a movie. Tom and I were listening to the NOAA radio and watching the sky, Tom at the South windows in the living room, and me at the kitchen windows facing North. Suddenly the sky turned black and our 70+ foot tall old growth trees went from swaying back and forth to bent over at 90 degrees and they started snapping. The sound was like bones breaking. The power went out. Then I heard the wind wail eerily and I shouted, "We've got to get into the basement NOW!" I ran into Lara's room and grabbed her wheelchair. At the same time I heard Tom shout. There was a huge clump of basswood trees falling toward the house. I unbuckled the seat belt on Lara's wheelchair and set her on the floor. We dragged her down the basement stairs backward on her tush (Eddy held the flashlight and did a great job lighting our way) and when we all were in the basement stairwell there was a loud BOOM and the house shook. Lara started shrieking. Ed was excited but controllable. I sat on the floor with Lara who began to sob and say she was afraid and very sad. She put her arms around my neck like a wrestler putting on a head lock and wouldn't let go. I could hardly breathe she clung to me so tightly. I managed to get Eddy to come by us and I hugged him, too. He was a lot calmer than Lara. Even in our good poured concrete basement we could hear trees breaking. After a while Tom went upstairs to check things out. I checked out the phone and as we had a dial tone, I called Dad. There was no answer, so Tom donned a rain poncho and walked over to Dad's to make sure he was ok. One of the huge old spruce trees had fallen on the farmhouse in almost the same spot the basswoods had fallen on our house. All but three of the great spruce trees in the arbor that Great Grandpa Mathias had planted so long ago are gone, and the ones that still stand are damaged. Thankfully, Dad was ok, though he insisted on staying in the house. It was now dark and there was nothing that could be done, so we all just went to bed.
After a bad night of little sleep, Tom and I were up at first light to check out the damage. I had my trusty camera in hand to take pictures for the insurance adjustor. How about a nice view of the house:
Or maybe the surrounding woods:
The number of shattered trees is phenomenal. Tom and I literally had to saw our way to the end of the drive so the electric company could get in to our property.
One of the electrical wires was down on the ground, tangled in with fallen trees in the easement area.
There was a tree leaning on the remaining wire near the transformer pole.
Broken trees covered the propane tank and crushed most of the chicken run fence. Miraculously, the chicken coop was untouched and when I went to check on my chickipoos, they were very happy in their newly cleaned coop. (I cleaned it out yesterday and put down fresh wood shavings.)
The garden boxes were flattened but I'm hopeful they will recover. Less can be said for the condition of the field. Here's what is left of my high tunnel:
And the chicken skid I built last year lost half of its roof. I don't even know where the plywood went.
This is all that's left of my hops section:
The corn is flattened, but the potatoes and many of the squash plants are still there; not sure about the rest yet.
Trees were down along the creek buffer, and Shane and the snowmobile trail clean up crew are going to get a real work out this year.
I'm thankful we are all in one piece. It sure could have been worse. One of the workers from Price Electric told us that we were lucky -- the area down on Highway 182 where the tornado really hit is supposedly flattened.
As for the garden, well, I'm still hopeful I'll have enough produce at some point to make it to the farmers market.
And the next time Lara tells me she hears a hoot owl at her window we won't wait before going to the basement!