Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tornado Tears Up North Minneapolis

in my combined total of 8 years being a "minnesotan," i have never once seen a tornado.  i lived in some straight rural areas too and have seen the sky green, heard the sirens, and just seen a killer lightning storm.  today... today held something very different.

i'd worked the overnight shift until 11am.  i was tired, but had to watch audrey so josh could teach class at the gym up the street.  around 1pm, the rain subsided and audrey was pounding on the front door and trying to reach the doorknob to get out.  i figured i could let her run around the gym and get herself tired so we could both nap, so we walked over. 

not even an hour later, the wind picked up and the rain started coming down harder.  beau, a gym manager, informed josh that there was a tornado warning for the area.  josh being as skeptical as myself, brushed it off and kept class going on (in typical josh fashion).  brandon, a student, and myself walked over to the glass door and peered outside admiring how dark it was for 2pm.  the wind picked up more, the clouds were whizzing by, and the rain stopped.  in the distance we could see what we thought were birds only to both realize aloud at the same time that it was leaves and debris.  it was flying in a circular pattern and we realized we were staring at the tornado funnel itself.  beau started yelling "TORNADO" and the lights in the gym began flickering.  we all ran for the guy's locker room and josh went outside to unchain the backdoor and get it shut.  the sirens were going and all of us were crammed in next to lockers in a smelly room.  most of the guys wanted to train still so they just left after a minute and announced the sirens had stopped.

the rain began to come down in sheets and buckets.  somehow we got word that houses were destroyed in the 2 mile radius that surrounded us.  that potentially included my house!  i left audrey with josh, threw on my rain boots, and in the pouring rain, glasses and all... i ran.  i ran in front of cars and just kept running til i saw my block.  i could barely see through the raindrops that clung to my lenses.... but i didnt see any damage.
i ran back to the gym.  ADT called to tell me our alarm went off.... finally the rain died down, 3 pm hit and class was over.  we had a tough time getting home though.  apparently there was awful damage to the neighborhood and a baby had died.  the cops were blocking off intersections and streets....

we made it to our alley and i decided to get my camera and walk through the neighborhood.  i have never been more heartbroken and shocked in my life.  you always think, "i live in the cities.  i cant get hit by a tornado!"  boy oh boy were we ever wrong.  i posted pics on my facebook page of the damages to my neighborhood.  entire trees uprooted through peoples' homes, slabs of concrete uprooted with the trees, fences down, chunks of roof shingle scattered across lawns, chimney brick all over peoples' roofs....

some of the neighbor girls told me to go down a different way to see some real damage- roofs torn off houses, a gas station torn to bits.... i started down that way but the crackhead scene was getting a bit much for me and my canon, so i turned back to go home.  i was in my house barely a minute and heard gunshots.  since the cops were busy helping people navigate through the forest in the roads and help people in danger, chaos erupted.  gotta hand it to the northside.  even in the face of disaster and damages, gunshots!

we got off pretty easy though.  we got some minor flooding in our basement.... that's it.

what's scary is that audrey and i were supposed to be napping in the house and she had this urge to leave the house.  this isn't the first time either... she's got like a sixth sense for danger and always gets me out of the way.  my little angel.

i talked to some of the neighbors in the area.  everyone was ok but the damages were shocking.  one lady told me she and her daughter had arrived home 15 min BEFORE the tornado touched down.  a few girls we know in the neighborhood ignored the sirens and kept riding bikes at the school down the street until the wind started picking up in crazy speeds and got to safety just in the nick of time....

i am not a huge believer in God and religion but honestly, the damages missed my house by a 2 block radius on one end and a 1 block radius on the other.  we should have a messed up house right now.  we should have more than just some minor basement flooding.  audrey and i were supposed to have been in the house taking a nap when the sirens went off and the tornado touched down.  we werent though, and none of this stuff happened to us.  i consider us very very very lucky.  our power came back on after 3 hours, we had a great dinner on the grill since no electricity, and now all is calm.  it makes me scared though.  i'm wondering what's next.  i'm wondering if this is the beginning of the end....  i mean, a tornado tore up the northside.

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