When I first went upstairs after the storm and saw the glass and shattered wood and twisted metal all over the house, I realized
(**Note**When making a "disaster kit" to keep in a safe place....include shoes for all family members)
I told John where to find some of my tennis shoes (he was a smarter person than I and was wearing his shoes!) and he went climbing over random things to get to my closet.
I turned to go back downstairs and check on the kids when I spotted the birthday gift that Bennett's godparents had brought him laying under part of a rug in the foyer. I picked it up and shook it off and brought it back to the basement.
As John came back down with my shoes I told the kids that he and I were going to go outside and that I wanted them to stay in the basement where they would be safe.
You could tell they were starting to get a little panicky.
I remembered that my step mom had taken Ethan to get a birthday present for Bennett earlier that week (while we were on our relaxing beach vacation.....did that really happen?) and she told me she had hidden it in the guest room downstairs.
I told the kids that there was a birthday gift hidden somewhere in the bedroom, and asked them to try and find it.
I told them that Bennett could open those gifts while John and I were outside.
They actually listened to me...and went running off in search of the present.
When we came back later, they were all sitting around the dark basement checking out the presents.
(Isn't it funny how a person can shut their mind down completely to certain things when needed?)
After we'd left our house we drove out of the south entrance of our neighborhood.
Spencer, my brother-in-law, was driving my car with me and the animals and Barrett was behind us in his truck with the boys.
We maneuvered over lawns and trees and wires and only heaven-knows-what-else until we were able to make our way up 32nd street.
As we came to the corner of 32nd and Maiden Lane we saw St John's hospital.
I remember we both just kind of gasped.
I felt like I was crying...but I think the shock was too deep for tears.
We continued down 32nd until we came up to Freeman hospital.
Then we stopped and waited for the road to clear.
There was this strange procession going across 32nd street.
People carrying other people on gurneys.
People laying in the back of open pick-up truck beds with other people holding them.
People carrying other people on what looked like boards, or doors.
People performing CPR on those people laying on the boards and gurneys and wheeled hospital beds as they crossed the street from St John's to the other hospital.
There was a steady steady steady stream of people.
There was no shouting or yelling....just people steadily (and it felt like silently) moving southward to the "whole" hospital.
(In retrospect I believe that these people were the ICU and other patients from St John's being transferred by volunteers, hospital workers, neighbors and other saints to a place where they could be helped.)
I was so very glad that my boys were in the truck BEHIND me and prayed they were spared seeing some of this.
When we pulled up to the intersection of Main St and 32nd in my car the radio guys were saying that more tornadoes were touching down in the area.
We scanned the sky in every direction.
We heard the highway was impassable.
We looked north down Main St and saw smoke billowing up from many many locations. I remember saying, "This is what a war zone would look like..."
The sky was so black to the east......
The rain started again and I was scared I wouldn't be able to see if something was headed our way.
We turned south, away from the fires....and my bil tried to figure out a way to get us back to his house.
Amazingly a call came through on my bil's cell phone (mine was soaking wet at this point).
It was the head of maintenance at St John's and he called to ask for help finding a certain kind of diesel fuel to run the generators at the Brady Building (which is for long-term acute care patients). He said the generators were running out of fuel and they needed that electricity to keep the life support systems going.
Then the phone went dead.
With my bil giving me phone numbers as he tried to navigate a way to the north side of town I dialed and dialed various people to find fuel....but by then there were no cell towers left and none of my calls went through.
I remember the frantic feeling of trying to simultaneously dial the phone and look in every direction to make sure we weren't driving into another tornado and check behind us to make sure RH and kids were still following........