Thursday, May 20, 2010

When we emerged

This is a short bit of video compiled from 8mm film my dad shot the day after the tornado. This is what we woke to that following morning. The video speaks for it's self.


  1. When I watch this, I feel like my heart is trying to jump out of my body. The music you chose is fantastic.

    So - I just discovered that someone wrote a book about the Ruskin tornado.

    Crazy. Who knew?

  2. Thank you Rick! With still pictures you can take a break and imagine clearer areas outside the photo you just don't get the full impact that this destruction is at 360 degree's. Reya, my copy of that book is up in the attic, or I would post the picture that the newspaper had of our house, with my parents leaning over the hole in the ground (our basement) where we weathered the storm. I wrote my memories in the past but realize that I hadn't dug as deeply as you folks did. In an older blog about the tornado Ruskin Tornado Tales.
    Reading this and the other blog link posted from someone else helped me recapture the 'sound'I thought I had lost it. No matter how many times I paraded 'it sounds like a train' around in my mind, it just didn't feel right. The deafening swell from the ground as if listening to a loud bass speaker rumbling in your chest-the sand turning to pebbles turning to rocks and then everything coming to a crescendo - but reversing the sounds as it leaves.
    I can only write in fragments here-trying to escape from my mothers hold pops up first. We were in the basement in a 'closet' built into the ground - part of a window in back of this small closet was above ground, and that is what we crawled through afterwards. I remember crawling through and trying to concentrate on debris, so I wouldn't if! I remember hearing the words that we were in shock...but I didn't know what that meant - or how they could tell. It didn't sound like a good thing though, so I was determined to TRY to be normal. My mom remembers closing her eyes tightly after seeing the hot water tank explode and start dancing around - thinking 'this is it'. My younger brother had to be coaxed from under the safety of the workbench next to our shelter before it hit. I remember screaming and not hearing my voice-and my little dog got away from my sister-watching him zoom by alongside a door. I could not understand why my parents wanted me to BE there-holding me there-I wanted to run away, and escape. My folks had left the door open for anyone to come in and take shelter and had been expecting the Hembree's (next door) for a game of cards earlier. The Hembree's had been to the grocery store, leaving to outrun the tornado. We had NO IDEA if they had survived the tornado until later that year when we were rebuilding/moving back into our homes. Sorry for this disjointed stuff,but it is just coming out this way-like trying to stop a tornado here!

    When we came out of that basement,we realized that our house was completely gone. The Hembree's house to our right had one wall standing, and the huge mirror on that wall was intact, not even cracked. The rest of their house was gone. The Schumachers to our left had a staircase leading to nowhere left. They had been outdoors holding onto trees - trees which were left with embedded straw and debris. We lost many tree's in our yard, and for years we would find things deeply embedded in the ground around our home. We received a huge set of our old keys someone had found in their yard-keys to doors that were long gone.

    Banding together our neighbors always had annual tornado get-together's - which started out with the RUIN sign. The appliances,rugs,etc. my folks had just bought on a payment plan from Sears were all replaced.My birthday had only been a week prior, and my mom recognized some of my gifts with neighbors but just never said a word-we were all rebuilding. Everyone was helping everyone else clean up that mess. To see our parents in their 30's and younger facing the work and becoming a closer knit community makes me very proud of each of them - yours and mine!
    Thanks again for letting me share!

  3. Incredible, Nancy. Thanks so much for this!

  4. Nancy, what an incredible recollection. I can completely relate to the bewilderment we felt as children as we were told to do things that were so counterintuitive...staying in a place where debris was flying around in your case, or in my case, running out to a car with a huge black cloud chasing you.

    Thank you so much for adding to the day's remembrance, and for giving credit to our young parents who had the courage to rebuild.

  5. Rick, thank you so much for this incredible video. I found myself wondering if my father was among the men seen standing in what looked to be the Presbyterian Church's yard next to the high school.

    Your dad was a visionary to know to record this for posterity.

  6. I have a link to the Brewer book, Caught in the Path, at the end of my post

  7. Jacob, yours is the story that helped me regain so many memories of the tornado sounds...thanks! Jo and Dubby - you both helped me see just how bewildered I really was! I have more feelings and impressions from that time - such as the urgency to get OUT of the shelter, then once out, the desire to go BACK in the shelter. My mother several steps ahead of me stopping to look down at a twist of tree in her path - and noticing that her shoulders suddenly drooped and her head bent forward as if studying that branch. I approached it and my sister told me to be careful about jumping over it...but I remember wondering what my mom saw in that fallen branch that I did not see (HELLO! Somebody! Your house is gone!) I do remember feeling that things would be folks would know what to do (??!). I think it's wierd that I don't remember feeling the loss of my toys, my stuff....yes, bewildered! I emailed my cousin Dennis Smith (who worked many years at the Weather Channel) - and learned that this tornado is what led him to become interested in weather - the POWER of that storm.

  8. Carolyn Brewer has just written a second book. Just finished proofing/editing it for her from a survivor's eyes. I would think it will be published within the year. I lived next door to her on 110th St., 1 1/2 blocks south of the high school.

    Peggy McNamara


Your visit makes my heart smile. Thank you.