Friday, April 29, 2011
My Hometown - Vilonia, Arkansas
April 25, 2011 -
At 3:45 p.m. I called my son just to chat - having no idea that he would be glued to the weather news, trying to decide whether to load up his little family of 5 and head to my parents so they would be close to shelter if the storms decided to become more threatening. He was just home from his job in Alaska a few days and we were talking about how it had rained every single day since he had been home and it was hampering all his plans to catch up on all the things he wanted to do on his 2 week break from work. (hunting, fishing) After about a 5 minute conversation he told me he really needed to go so he could concentrate on the weather and make a decision - he didn't want to wait too late. My advice was to go with his gut, if he felt like they should go - then go! Just be careful and be safe!
A couple of hours later I received a text from my mom that they were all in the church basement just right up the road from their home. The sirens were blaring - they were now under a tornado warning. I was so thankful that they were all together as I am 500 miles away from my family and it makes me feel so much better when I know where each one is during times like this.
We texted back and forth for the next couple of hours - my husband and I had been watching the weather channel since 5 p.m. and I was texting them what the weather channel was reporting. There were so many people at the church - electricity was gone so no news available for them. Every one was getting texts from friends or family. As we watched the WC it was showing that Vilonia specifically was right in the path of a huge tornado and the path it was taking was straight through where my son and his family live. Not long after, rumors were flying at the church that a tornado had gone through and first address given out that had been demolished was the home directly across from my son! Of course there was no way of knowing at that time if it was true or not. It was a wait and see and hope and pray situation.
Once the worst was over and every one could return home - news was spreading quickly about how hard certain areas were hit. Very soon the main hwy. was closed - 18 wheelers turned over and trees blocking the roads every where. When I talked to my son, he and his wife were on their way to their place, going back roads - through flooding - to try to see if they had a home left to go back to. At midnight - he called me and his exact words "it's gone, mom". Heartbreaking...but on the other hand - we were rejoicing that they were safe! Thank God for his gut feeling that this was going to be a "bad one". He just had "that feeling". The emotions were running wild - happy, sad, scared, worried - one after the other.
They have friends who met them there at their land and with flashlights they went through what they could and started trying to save things...important papers, her jewelry, guns. They worked almost all night and then were back at daylight working straight through the day - with even more friends and family helping them salvage what they could. They found the girls baby books under a bed - dry. They have 3 girls and their rooms were destroyed - very little salvagable. They were able to get hang up clothes from their closet. They took lots of pictures and filed their claim. They were in shock and they were so thankful to be alive and they were so saddened to see so many of their belongings destroyed. It was over 24 hours before they could tell the girls, who were with my mom. (4, 9 & 11) The whole roof was gone - the double wide was split open - it was moved about 40 feet from where it was originally grounded.
Then the help arrived - National Guard - Red Cross - Volunteers from all over - food pouring in - clothing donations, toiletries - you name it! Vilonia people came together as one and the helping hands began to reach out to those in need. Neighbor helped neighbor, stranger helped stranger. They became instant family.
As I type this - it is day 4 - the work continues - the help is still there. My son's land is already leveled thanks to volunteers with bulldozers offering their services - going from one destruction site to another. AMAZING!
I am truly thankful for the outpouring of love and support shown my family. It will be a couple of weeks until I am able to go myself - it is hard to be so far away and not be able to physically do my part to help.
Most of all - I am thankful to God for protecting my son, daughter in law and 3 beautiful granddaughters. I am thankful for my parents for being there for them - for their safety and their home being untouched. I am thankful for all my friends who have supported ME here - knowing how hard it is for me to be so far away. ♥
Video of what was left of my son's mobile home