Riding the Storm Out

I haven’t posted in the past week because I’ve had little chance. On Saturday, May 18, my workplace was hit by an EF-1 tornado and there was fairly extensive damage, closing the center for an as yet undetermined amount of time.

We’ve experienced heavy rains both here and upstream, and we worked on cleanup on the Monday following. We have used social media to stay in communication, and my employer is paying for our time while we are off. As we began discussing options, realizing this would not be a short time off, they offered to send us out to work on the road with extra pay so that our location could stay up and running in the meantime,

While I am in Arkansas, I remain #OklahomaStrong, and you do what you have to, so I took the offer. Wednesday was preparation for a two week absence (this may be adjusted later), and Thursday morning we had to be packed and ready to go. It was blistering hot, humid, and 3 hours to our destination, and we arrived out without incident, but tensions have been high as we have been adjusting to our new surroundings while our families remain 200 miles away as the floodwaters rise.

Record flooding, the fears of a dam holding against barges floating downriver (thankfully, it held), and then last night devastating tornadoes striking just west of us in Oklahoma. This has been one for the record books, and we are not finished yet.

On Thursday morning, just 110 hours and some change after the tornado struck, we were up and running, thanks to the combined efforts of a lot of people. Two days of taking calls later, and we are getting a chance to rest, to breathe.

It’s not coming without cost. I am missing my son’s birthday, and we wake to daily news footage of the deluge that is destroying what we know.

We will rebuild. The story of my family throughout multiple generations has been the story off people who rebuild. The story of people who never let circumstances destroy them. At times like this I think back on my grandfather, who in Depression era Indiana invested the last of his family’s money in some carpentry tools to get one of 5 construction jobs available, despite no experience in carpentry and a candidate pool of over 500 applicants. He got the job because he had the tools, sparing him the wrath of my grandmother.

Years from now, we will be asking each other, “where were you in the flood of ’19”. And it will build us and make us stronger.

But for right now, we need to stop and take a breath. Hoping that the water stops coming soon enough to let us breathe.

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