As I huddled over my children that August afternoon, I wondered what I would find when the storm was over. How I would manage? There was water pouring into the middle of our basement and I just heard my large tree hit part of the house. I had no cell service, no power, and most of all no one to lean on.
As a single mother, my kids just had me to get them through the scariest moments of their lives.
We emerged from the basement after the derecho. A smoke detector was going off upstairs because water was pouring through it. Though we had water in our home, there was no major interior damage. I was happy to know we would have a place to sleep that night.
The only tree we had taken out part of our deck, we were missing several pieces of siding on all sides of our house, and I found several shingles in our yard.
My 3-year-old daughter went to get her swimsuit on so she could run in the rain. I looked around at the damage and wondered where to start. I began picking up sticks and shingles alone while my son helped watch his little sister.
Within only a few hours, some family and neighbors came together and helped me cut up the tree and move it to the street.
That night after hours of moving tree limbs and debris we sat in a dark, hot house with nothing to do. We had no way to cook. The three of us slept on the couch next to the open windows because it was the coolest spot in the house. I stayed up most of the night alone trying to comprehend the extent of what we went through and how many others were affected. There was no estimate on when power would be restored and I worried about food.
But then, a neighbor helped me keep our food cold.
As the days passed after the derecho, it kept raining and water kept entering our home. I felt hopeless to stop it as the rain dropped into all the buckets I kept around the house.
But then, my dad showed up with backup to tarp my roof.
A few days of eating foods we didn’t need to cook began to weigh on the kids and we were running low on supplies.
But then, people around our community began to find ways to help feed their neighbors.
I got sick, but I still had two children who were hot and bored and needed to be cared for. I tried my best to entertain them and keep us all going, but I didn’t know how I would do it.
But then, my mom came and got the kids and took them to her house to cool down. She did my laundry and gave me time to rest.
Months went by; I had to deal with insurance, picking out new siding, finding contractors, and making decisions about my house alone. It might seem simpler to decide things without fighting with someone over each detail, but it can be hard. I alone had to make decisions about something I didn’t know a lot about. Only I would be the one to deal with the consequences if I made wrong decisions.
But then, my friends listened to my problems and gave suggestions. We talked about everything we were dealing with. They were my sounding board and my shoulder to cry on.
One year later as I’m writing this, it would be easy to think back and feel sorry for myself because I dealt with the derecho aftermath on my own. But that wouldn’t exactly be the truth. I may have stayed up each night alone and worried over things, but I was far from alone.
We live in a small community with great neighbors who take care of each other. We have a supportive family and extended family who love and care for me and my kids. I have great friends who listen to me whenever I need them. And most of all, I have two wonderful children who love me through it all.
Though I might have been on my own after the derecho, I was never truly alone.
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