Wednesday, April 20, 2011


tornado approaching downtown Raleigh- courtesy of WRAL
This past week powerful tornadoes ripped through the Southeastern United States leaving a path of destruction in their wake.  I had watched the storms on the news for two days as they tore through Arkansas, Mississippi and Georgia, so by the time the system reached my state of North Carolina on Saturday afternoon, I was sure that they would have started to weaken.  Unfortunately this was not the case.  In all at least 25 tornadoes broke out across the state and resulted in 23 deaths. (updated to 24 on 4.21) 63 homes in Raleigh were destroyed and over 600 severely damaged. (updated to 138 houses and 8 businesses destroyed, 2,269 homes and businesses severely damaged on 4.21)
downtown raleigh, taken by a friend
It all happened so quickly, I received a phone call from my sister that a tornado touched down in a nearby town and that it was headed towards Raleigh at 50 mph.  It had been rainy and windy all day, and I wasn't too terribly worried at this point.  A little while later the lights started flickering so I turned on the the news.  We don't have cable and could only pickup a signal from one station because of the all the interference.  That particular station is located downtown, the area that was hit first and hardest.  The clouds were so thick and the rain so heavy, that the footage from the video cameras was almost completely black.  The reporter was saying that the tornado was right above them and headed north (our direction), just then the power went out and all the light filtering in the windows started to fade.  It got so dark that it almost looked like nighttime and I felt that feeling of dread creep into the pit of my stomach.  My husband and I grabbed our two cats and headed to the bathroom to ride out the storm.  Rain was pounding, I'm pretty sure there was some large hail, and you could hear the wind ripping past us.  And that was it... it was over as quickly as it started.  The rain let up then it was gone, I looked outside and other than a few limbs on the ground everything looked fine.
Having no power, no phone signal, and no internet access we really had no idea what had happened.  A few hours went by, power was still out and it was dinner time, so we decided to look for an open restaurant.  The street lights were out and we saw a tree or two down but not much else out of the ordinary.  Then, all of a sudden, we were surrounded by trees that had snapped in half, damaged roofs and a whole bank of power lines lying across the road.  In a daze, we just kept driving an another mile up the road, street lights were working and no visible damage at all.  We ate at a Mexican restaurant, I can't even remember what I ordered or if it was good or not.  I was too busy watching the horror unfold on the television across the room, missing roofs, houses that looked like they exploded and 200 year old trees ripped from the ground.  Then it was back home, where our power had been restored and life went pretty much back to normal.
Brass Twister Necklace- Limited Edition
And that's what its like living in Raleigh right now, two different worlds, its completely surreal.  Both my home and my studio are about a mile west of the tornadoes path, other than still finicky cell reception, there are no reminders of Saturdays events, you can almost forget that anything happened at all.  Then you get in your car and... bam ... the scene is almost post-apocalyptic. 
There is much to be thankful for. Somehow all of our friends and relatives in the area escaped with little or no damage to their properties and more importantly none to their persons.  While I feel very grateful I also feel very guilty. Its strange to go about my life as normal when so many others have lost so much, and this is where you come in.  Several local artists have donated works to help raise money for victims of Saturday's tornado.  You can purchase these works, or donate work of your own at  100% of the proceeds will be donated to The Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Raleigh.

No comments: