Direct from the Derecho

Mother Nature turned violent last night.

There was mild rain, thunder and lightening as I put the children to bed, a little later than usual since it was Janah’s last evening with us and we hung out together a little longer. Martin was out of the house at the supermarket, and I was too tired to do any evening chores.

Lost in my own head as I ran through my nightly checklists, I set my alarm for early the next morning to see Janah off, and was just about to rest my head on the pillow when Miss C burst into my room.

“Mom, the wind outside is really scary,” she said.

“It’s just a summer storm,” I explained. “It’ll be over soon.”

“No, really. I’ve never heard it that way before.”

As she said that, I noticed that the wind DID sound really strong. Branches were scraping my windows. We have trees in the backyard, but the branches normally do not touch our windows, not even in summer storms. I lifted the shade and together, Miss C and I peeked outside.

As if on cue, the storm really picked up. The flashes of lightening were intense, but the rain was so dense, we could barely see anything except violent movement. The limbs of our backyard trees seemed to be straining and unnaturally twisted, and Miss C and I heard a loud snapping, and the sound of things hitting the house.

“Yeah, that’s not normal,” I said. “Let’s head downstairs.”

I handed over my cell phone and laptop to her and she headed to the basement while I went to the nursery to retrieve Lola and Jaz.

For a second, I thought I’d have to make a Sophie’s Choice decisionwhich child do I carry downstairs first?  But the wind and the rain were going crazy outside and I thought I heard something crack outside on our lawn, so I scooped up both sleeping children in my arms and bolted down the stairs. Outside our kitchen windows, it looked like inside a car wash. I could see our huge grill had been pushed across our porch as if it were made of styrofoam.

Branches and leaves were literally swirling in the wind.

Janah was already tucked into bed in the basement guest suite, but she graciously let Miss C climb in with her as I put Lola (who will sleep deeply through anything) down on the floor. Jaz had woken up on the way downstairs, so I gave him a toy and quickly turned on the laptop to check on weather reports. Sure enough, my area was under a severe weather warning. But since we weren’t watching television, listening to radio, and disconnected (for once!) from our cells and laptops, we didn’t realize such a huge storm was coming. Unlike the Midwest, where every church and school has a weather siren on top of it, we don’t have sirens here in the DC area.

Those would have come in handy.

By some miracle, our power never went out. I pulled up the radar to track the storm in real time, and was able to tell Janah and Miss C as the worst approached us. I ran upstairs twice to get candles and a bottle for Jaz, and both times to take a peek outside. It was truly crazy, and I was grateful when things slowed down after about 20 minutes.

Once the radar showed that the storm was finished, I actually ventured outside. I could see that a section of my front yard tree was down. As I got closer to it, I saw that our neighbor, Mr. Bob, was already out there with his flashlight, too. It was still raining and lightening, but from what we could tell, none of our vehicles appeared damaged.

My backyard didn’t fare as well. A huge limb and several branches had come down hard just outside our bedroom window. I got to the part closest to the porch, and tried to lift it, but it wouldn’t budge. Not even an inch. In the dark and rain, I could barely make out the shape of it all, but I knew it was a huge mess. Parts of our neighbors’ trees hung limp over our fence, too.

Convinced no trees were going to topple onto the house, I returned the younger kids to their beds. Martin made it home, and he, Miss C, and I stayed up even later, watching the live weather reports and seeing the incredible damage the derecho — the official name of the violent chain of storms that rolled over several states — left on our area and other parts west of us.

It wasn’t until morning that we saw the damage. Martin quickly went to work to cut down the wood, using Mr. Bob’s chainsaw.

Miss C and I went out on a food run, and were amazed at the mess in our neighborhood: leaves, branches, limbs, giants sections of trees littering the roads and yards. Fortunately, it looks like all the homes and buildings around here remained intact. I’m sure some weather records were broken yesterday.

Miss C and I took photos, and she even made a video recounting her experience, which you can watch above.

Tree limb in our backyard.

Miss C’s photo of the tree down in our front yard.

Where the limb splintered off the tree.

A corner of our backyard.

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The backyard tree outside our window. The limb came down from the other side.

My dad also posted photos on Facebook of the damage his tree suffered in Ohio. We were just out there last month, and took family photos in that very spot. It’s an older tree, and just like my Dad, I hate seeing such damage to it. I hope it can recover.

My dad’s backyard in Ohio. That’s his garage on the right, which suffered some roof damage. The same storm system that destroyed our trees wrecked havoc on his, too, just hours before. That spot where the limbs are down is where we parked the kids for photos during our last visit. Fortunately, the tree toppled over onto the garage, and not the house.

That was quite a storm.