Last night I found myself caught off guard, seeing a message on facebook saying, "I hope everyone in Mapleton is ok". I immediately searched weather.com thinking there must have been a bad storm, and all I saw was a severe thunderstorm warning. In Iowa, severe thunderstorm warning really doesn't cause much worry until it's upgraded to "tornado watch".
I tried my mom's cell. No answer...followed by a busy signal, which was weird because cell phones don't have busy signals. No answer from my dad. I started freaking out. The facebook statuses started pouring in from all my old hometown friends about hoping everyone was ok.
Then I saw on my facebook a little message of relief from my sister saying "we're all ok". I finally got ahold of my dad and learned that a tornado had gone through my little hometown of around 1200. My little home town with one stop light. My dad said it was just like this huge wall and there was debris just flying around everywhere. His house was ok, just littered with debris and mud.
I got ahold of my mom, who said they (my brothers, sister and the dog) were all stuffed in her basement bathroom listening to the destruction outside. I know how scary it is and immediately wished I could be there to hug my whole family. My mom's house is fine, just some damage to her garage door which busted in and hit her car.
But my little hometown, the one with one stoplight, did not fare so well. I've been obsessively scouring the internet today and late last night looking for updates on all the people I know from home and all of the places I spent my childhood. And all the pictures I see just really take my breath away. And bring me back to the Iowa City tornado we lived through in college. And all of the close calls we lived through growing up.
What I'm most thankful for, however, is the safety of my WHOLE family. My cousin's wedding was yesterday. My entire extended family was in town. Thankfully, the wedding reception was in a nearby town and not in Mapleton where we all grew up. Thankfully everyone is safe.
So please keep my little town in your thoughts and prayers these coming weeks. I'm guessing our one little stop light is no longer there, and much of the town is damaged or destroyed. Hug your family a little closer tonight and count your blessings that they are all safe and sound. And give them a little extra squeeze for me, since I can't be there to hug my family right now.
A photo of Mapleton taken by the Governor who is there to survey damage today. You can see where the F3 tornado just kind of crossed right through the center of town. I'm reading that the winds were as high as 135mph and the tornado was 3/4 mile wide. We are so lucky there were no fatalities.