Monday, August 2, 2010

Fur-children, flashlights and fuzzy memories...

The wind's deep massive roar caused me to shoot out of bed at 3:15 a.m. on June 10.

Instinctively, I scooped up our three Dachshunds and hollered at my husband, Brian, to get downstairs. Hurrying with two flashlights and three dogs in my arms, I stopped just long enough to drag Brian out of bed, and then sleepily fumbled my way to the basement.

Sounding more like a freight train than a strong wind, the storm already had the upper hand. Looking from the basement window, I could tell by the heavy yellowish sheets of rain and the low bending trees that it would be only a matter of time until the power went out.

Still groggy from a deep sleep, Brian eventually came down to the basement, where I sat on the couch with our three fur-children and flashlights.

The place suddenly went dark and from that point on, the storm had full control over our lives.

Waiting out the worst of it in the family room, we thought we'd try to get some sleep. With flashlights in hand, we half-stepped our way to the basement bedroom and settled in. Or at least that's how I remember the summer storm of 2010.

However, my husband's memory of it is quite different. Brian's side of the storm story goes like this...

"I, on the other hand, recovering from Vertigo, asked Paula, who was positioned on the couch with one Dachshund, to help me carry our other two Dachshunds down the spiral staircase.

"However, not budging from her spot in the basement, she didn't respond to my request. So, with trepidation and a slight case of dizziness, I took one step at a time down the stairs in complete darkness, carrying the dogs with me.

"I then asked Paula to get the flashlights, which were on the first level, but she opted to stay put. So, with great effort to balance myself, I made another trip upstairs to get the flashlights, while the storm continued to rage outside.

"We eventually settled in the basement bedroom. However, unable to get comfortable, we went back upstairs 15 minutes later, after the bulk of the storm had passed."

After Brian recounted his side of the story, I challenged him. "Are you sure about all that?" I asked. "I could have sworn it was the other way around."

Oh, well, at least we can agree on what we saw when we awoke a few hours later...

The power was still off and I found myself praying to the hot tap water to brew a nice hot cup of tea. Instead, I was clutching a mug of lukewarm Earl Gray, while peeking out the front window to see what Mother Nature had left behind.

I saw downed limbs everywhere, but it was not until I ventured outside that I realized the extent of the damage.

Huge sections of a decades-old silver maple landed on the house across the street, smashing the chain-link fence and above-ground pool and tearing into the master bedroom.

The neighbor's screen porch folded like a deck of cards with some sections contorted into unrecognizable chunks of metal, while other parts were lying in the yard across the way.

Looking long down the street, I could see a number trees leaning on garages and power lines. The road was covered with branches, weathered deadwood, ripped siding, distressed children's toys and a clutter of other debris.

The 95-mile-per-hour wind picked up a trampoline from the backyard of one house, wrung it out like wet laundry and left it twisted and gnarled in the front yard of another house.

Vinyl boat covers were strewn about. Garden sheds collapsed like cardboard boxes. Large pieces of sheet rock and Styrofoam littered otherwise well-kept yards. Shingles were stripped from roofs and lawn chairs found new homes down the block.

For the first time in the 35 years, there was a path of destruction from one end of our road to the other.

It was the summer storm of 2010. A storm which my husband and I remember differently, but one we won't soon forget.

2010 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national and state award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took first-place statewide. To contact Paula, email, follow her blog at and find her on Facebook.


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