Sunday, April 16, 2006
Hell in an Easter basket
The picture above is downtown Iowa City, on the corner of Washington and Dubuque facing NNW. Nasty little bugger, isn't it? I'm amazed, frankly, there was no damage up here in my neighborhood. We're to the north of downtown, and basically sit atop a hill. It's one of the highest points in Iowa City as far as I know.
My storm perspective: the tornado sirens started blaring around 7:30 pm (I think), it was thundering, pummeling rain, lightning everywhere. I think we even got some hail... Except for the damn sirens, it was perfect sleeping weather in my book. Around 8 pm, my neighbors Mark and Victor called to have me come over in my troglodyte costume and hide out in the recesses of their cellar. It had been an extremely rough week at work, I was exhausted, and declined, telling them I was just going to go to bed.
Yes, in true Cooter fashion, I slept through a tornado. Mark and Victor sat on their front porch and watched it, illuminated by the lightning, as it bounced through town. Now then, I'd like to take this opportunity to say that I don't take severe weather lightly. Well, ok. Maybe I do. But in all the years I've lived here, a tornado has NEVER touched down in IC. Was I foolish? Yes. And Mark exacted a promise from me that should something like this happen again, I WILL seek the safety of their basement or Mark will "come over there and carry (my) ass across the street." It's good to have friends who care... and friends with basements. (For the record, I have a crawlspace under the entire house, but you can't stand fully erect down there and I'm claustrophobic).
Friday morning. I made coffee, turned on the news and hmmm... looked like something happened here, but they weren't quite yet saying it was a tornado. So I saddled up the poog and we went out to survey the area. Nothing. I have a small pot of chives on the back deck that hadn't even budged. No dents on the car. No limbs down from any of the four trees in the yard. We looked around the neighborhood and things seemed fine.
Around 7 Celti called to see if I was ok. Uh, yeah... why wouldn't I be? So I turned on 'Good Morning America' and lo and behold, footage of Iowa City. The University had cancelled classes. I've been here through some nasty blizzards, ice storms, the flood of '93 and the wind storm of '98... never do I remember classes being cancelled.
This image below is plastered everywhere. It's St. Patrick's church, about two blocks south of downtown. Just down the street are my friend S's law offices. Unscathed. The erratic 'behavior' of tornadoes is astounding. Across the street from S's house, most homes had their windows blown out and a front porch had collapsed on one. S had a broom leaning on her front porch that didn't fall over.
I still don't know the full extent of what happened, though working at George's yesterday, I got an earful. In fact, the bar manager, Rick, sustained a lot of damage to his house which is about three blocks from S. He had an old ginormous pine tree in the front yard. It was simply snapped at the base, lifted OVER two stories and dropped in the neighbor's back yard. His front screened in porch was sheered off. Frankly, he lucked out.
One of our oldest parks, College Green, lost all but a handful of its trees. The gazebo still stands.
The one thing you notice most of all is the insulation. It's EVERYWHERE. As I drove into work Friday morning, that's the only evidence I saw that we had a storm. It was later that day, after I got off work at noon, that other things came to my attention. Large pieces of sheet metal wrapped around trees in hideous bows. A tiki torch perched in the topmost branches of a tree. And more insulation. And then S and I walked down Rochester and Hotz... it looked like a war zone, much like the photo above. The saddest thing to me is seeing all the trees. Roots unrooted. It's truly fortunate that there were no serious injuries in town, though a woman died in her home about 20 miles away.
I could go on and on about this, but don't want to bore you. If I get out to take some pictures, I'll post them. But I don't want to piss this guy off. It's human nature to gawk at the train wreck, and frankly, you can't blame people for wanting to look. It's also human nature to help out, and that is in plain evidence whereever you go. However, if one more person even brings up Katrina in relation to this, I'll frikkin' strangle them. Yeah, we had looting: a damn liquor store. A lot of people lost their houses; it's sad, it's tragic... but they weren't injured. Were we crushed by this? Hell no.
Sure wish someone would start cleaning up all that insulation, though.