Remembering the kindness of others – 19 years later

May 7, 2010 at 2:08 pm 4 comments

I’m a bit behind on my blogging.  So today I’ll catch up on an entry I meant to do a week ago.

April 26th is an anniversary in my family.  It’s the anniversary of the day we lost everything, but lost nothing important.

You see, on April 26, 1991, our home was hit by a tornado.  I was 15.   The tornado took lives along with many, many homes and businesses.  Its physical aftermath was visible for years.

For me, the emotional aftermath continues to linger in some ways, even after 19 years.  I wrote before about my recurring tornado dream.  It comes and goes, mostly as a result of stress.  And I have a healthy fear respect for storms, because I know you need it when you live in Kansas.

I won’t belabor the details for you.  Suffice it to say that we weren’t home when it happened.  None of us were physically in danger.  Things can be replaced; people can’t.

This was the scene at our house the next day.  My bedroom was on the far right side of the picture.  Personally, I was left with a quilt from my bed that my grandmother had made for me.  We washed dirt and insulation out of that quilt for days afterward.  Most of the rest of my belongings – furniture, clothes, the miscellany that makes up a teenager’s life – was gone.  Poof.

Miraculously, our two dogs and one cat that were in the house survived.  Our dogs – Barney & Sam – were in the garage, which virtually exploded.  Barney was waiting for us when we got home; Sam showed up the next day.  We hypothesized that he had been carried a little ways.

Matilda, the cat, was hiding under a sofa in the basement.  We also found her the next day.

You can’t tell, but this used to be the garage:

Do you know what I remember most from that experience?  The outpouring of generosity that we experienced.  Good friends and complete strangers alike took care of us.  Insurance took care of replacing our things, but we had immediate needs that others filled.

Pam & Connie at Twice is Nice in El Dorado gave me a bag full of clothes.  (And Pam, because I know you read this, there was a t-shirt in that bag of clothes that I wore for 15 years.  I finally had to break down and throw it out because it developed a hole.  That was a great t-shirt.)

More friends and family and neighbors than I can count or even know of helped with clean up, and feeding us, and taking care of the basics.

The people at Parrot-fa-nalia outfitted me with a new prom dress in one day so that I could go to the prom the night after the tornado.  Linda, my prom date’s mom, bought me a bag of deodorant, and toothpaste and toothbrush, and other basic toiletries we take for granted every day.

Coach Gibbs and the FCA group held my hand when I broke down at our meeting one week later.  Mrs. Pyle was gracious when I came in late for school, interrupting her class two days in a row, the following week.

People in our town offered reduced rent on housing until we got our house rebuilt.

If you helped us during that time, thank you so much.  You held up my family.  And your kindness continues, because in the spirit of paying it forward I make it my policy to help other victims of catastrophes in whatever capacity that I can.


Entry filed under: Life in general.

Stuff that chaps my hide Meet George.

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sarah Durrett  |  May 7, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I remeber this well. Amber Whitson was having a sleepover that night and about 10 of us girls were at her house. The tornado didn’t even touch her house, even though it was so huge, it just looked like a black wall. That was a scary time. I remember seeing your house afterwards, and I started crying because since your house was demolished, I guess I thought that you and your family had been hurt…or worse. And since Dan was my pretend boyfriend at the time (only in my imagination), I was heartbroken. I am so, so glad that you and your family made it through the ordeal in one piece…and maybe even stronger because of it.

  • 2. Anne  |  May 8, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    That was a great post, Amy. I love how you can remember all the ways individuals helped you.

  • […] was a hard year for all of us.  It started when our home was destroyed in the Andover tornado.  We lost our home, a car, and most of our belonging in that storm.  A second hail storm two […]

  • […] had the dream for 20 years.  I am sure of how long I’ve had it, because it started not long after our home was destroyed in the 1991 tornado.  For the first ten years, the ending of the dream never varied: I would always wake just before […]


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