Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tornado Up Close and Personal

My brother, Mike Stone, and his wife, Debbie, live in Murphy, North Carolina, down in the southeast corner of the state nearly touching Tennessee and Georgia.  They live on a beautiful piece of property in the middle of the woods.  They have a two story log home and  have two rental cabins nearby.  Mike works in the meat department of the local grocery store and he was at work when one of the tornadoes hit Friday.

DebbieStone and Us
Jim-Me-Debbie Stone
MikeStone
My brother, Mike Stone

Yesterday when I couldn’t reach him by phone I emailed him concerned because I could see where the spread of tornadoes were heading. Mike emailed me back with his account of the events and with his permission I am posting his email here for you all to read.

Watching the shots on TV and hearing the quick sound bits of people being interviewed can’t take the place of an eye witness account put into written words. It was very meaningful to me and I hope you will also be moved.

“Bobbie ....................well to answer your question.............yes we are ok, but it was a wild Friday to say the least.

Friday evening while i was closing down the meat dept, the skies turned ugly and the news came that we were under a tornado warning.......no big deal it happens 10 times a year.........we are ringed by mountains and only had one and that was 1974.

well the good lord corrected all that.............smart phones all over the store gave folks the news that a twister was on the ground and headed towards downtown..............2 minutes later the building shook like jello...........i yelled for everyone to get in the  meat coolers and then all hell broke loose as people ran for their lives.............the power went out............the windows blew out.............and skylights all over the roof got sucked out taking groceries thru the roof.............in two minutes it was over and we went outside to see cars over turned, light poles lying in the parking lot.............smashed windows and shopping carts everywhere.............my jeep was tuned sideways and except for some debris dings...........ok.

the sheriff got there and announced that another tornado was on the ground in polk county near us and headed towards murphy............i called debbie and she already was packed up and headed downstairs for the basement............hurry home mike.

well i drove as fast as i could towards a wall of rain, dodging roofs and sheet metal pieces all over the road..............as i turned into our country road, lightning flashed every second, the rain turned to hail and the jeep rocked like a boat.

as i approached my valley.........a ambulance was off the side and waved that the tornado was headed towards us............the sky lit up and a half mile ahead towards my home a tornado loomed bright in the sky moving at a angle towards our home.................i jammed on the brakes, pulled over and prayed that debbie was ok.

when it turned back to rain after 2 or 3 minutes, i drove towards our gravel road only to see trees lying down blocking everything.

i was a half mile away from the end where we live..........so i backed up and took the atv trail at the cabins hoping to avoid the blocked road............drove thru the cabin yards and was stopped by a dozen trees in the road..............in my gut i knew this was very bad and just jumped out of the jeep where it sat and ran/walked to the house..........between lightning flashes the landscape looked like a war zone with trees  everywhere.............i walked thru the woods best that i could............at one point i was wrapped up in what i thought were thick vines..........only to feel steel and rubber..............power lines.............i got untangled and ran for the house.............and started yelling for debbie as i saw a flashlight beam.....................she yelled back and said she was ok and just scared to death and crying.

we surveyed the house and it was untouched...........trees were on the carport and shed..........and huge 100 year old oaks were pulled out of the ground and lying everywhere with massive root balls 8 ft high...........to say were were blessed was a huge understatement.

after collapsing to sleep...........we woke up to a war zone scene outside, no power, debris everywhere............trees crushed the fence in six places...........gates were blocked and crushed...............trees crushed my  neighbors rv...............

My neighbor also had a tree come thru his roof, tear the porch off his house and had his pristine property turned into a barren landscape...........

i called the power company at 3am hoping to get thru as it was busy all night.............and a half hour later we heard the howl of a dozen chainsaws.............that morning deb and i walked down to the cabins thru what was a nice country road to what like berlin after the war................the cabins were both spared..........trees had fallen against # 2 but otherwise was ok.

Saturday afternoon, my local best friend tony came over with ropes chainsaws and a few cousins and made short work of the trees.........only damage was 20 shingles that need to be replaced and tony will have his carpenter brother fix that..................to have friends help like that reminds me why we moved here...........in florida its fuck you........help yourself brother...................we were floored by all the help.

meanwhile with choppers flying overhead, fema, fire depts from 3 states, sheriff deputies..........highway patrol.............and no shit..........homeland security..........out of asheville all stopped to ask if we were ok...........talk about response.

last night i drove to town to see about the store where i worked at..............it will be closed for 2 to 3 weeks..............they told me to report to work later this week...........and they will send me to ingles supermarkets they own in blueridge ga........andrews nc.........and hayesville nc................30 mile drive............but it saves my job and budget.

i also stopped at the abc liquor  store for some bottled stress reliever.............what the locals call............and "evening with uncle jack"..................waynes 80 year old feedstore was demolished, as was the sears store......brothers restaurant,   save a lot, and the kfc and taco bell were heavily damaged..............when i was in town there was national guard humvees everywhere  and even the red cross and news crews...........say what you will about the south..............but when the shit hits the fan here in the mountains............there’s just a boat load of help.

we have a 630 curfew and an order to stay out of town...........much to the dismay of all the fast food joints................folks were jovial and backslapping and lots of hugs all around.

debbie and i settled in for the night...........sat on our back porch and raised glasses to the sky............thankful of our blessed day, good friends and guardian angels..................the evening with uncle jack..........and a home made pizza............was the best meal of our lives.

we love y’all..............mike and debbie”

I am very happy my brother and SIL are well and unharmed and that their home came through the tornado unscathed.

Remember, you are loved.

 

18 comments:

  1. Wow what a first hand view of the tornado's ripping across the country. Glad they are OK with not too much damage.

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  2. God Bless you and your family Bobbie,,,,,and thank you and your brother for sharing his story, and the story of many, may God Be With Them, and lets hope this is the last for this year!

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  3. Wow, that's quite a moving experience, for sure! Thank God they are all o.k. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. WOW! What a story and so glad Mike and Deb are safe. That was a riveting read.

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  5. What a blessing friends, I mean real friends, the kind you can count on when you are down, are!!!

    I know because I am blessed with a few myself!

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  6. After seeing all the destruction all around I'm sure they weresaying their prayers of thanks that night and since.

    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

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  7. WOW!! What a story glad your brother and sil are ok. Reading that I felt like I was there. Good job..

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  8. Bobbie,
    We are so thankful that your brother and SIL are ok. Material things can always be replaced but a loved, one not so much.

    Stay safe,

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  9. Wow! Too bad there weren't pictures to go along with the note. Sounds very scarey. To head home and see the destruction all around and find your home okay must of been a relief. I'm sure his wife was terrified. Glad everyone is ok.

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  10. Wow...what a story!! I'm so glad they are OK. There were even two tornadoes touch down here in Nebr. during this crazy weather spell. Never happened this early in the year before.

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  11. Heart warming story...gave us both chills and reminds us just how lucky we really are...

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  12. HOLY SCHLAMOLY!!! We live in Illinois and have had a few "close encounters" but nothing like you...You are blessed to be alive...Everyone should read your story...

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  13. Thank you so much for sharing. We are parked near Helen, GA only about 50 miles from Murphy and were unaware of the damage done there. We were in Hayesville for lunch yesterday and heard nothing! Friday night we saw the tornado's tracking along the NC and GA border.
    So glad your family is safe. The Murphy community will be in our prayers.

    Claudia
    Mytripjournal.com/silvertrails

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  14. butterbean carpenterMarch 5, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Howdy B&J,
    I cried with relief for your brother and his famiy
    and can't quit!!! THANK THE GOOD LORD!!! One thing about down where y'all are you wont have tornadoes JUST HURRICANES!!! Stay sweet and hug
    old Jim!!!

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  15. Black letters on a red blackground are unreadable.

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  16. O MY!! Thank you for sharing your brother's story. Prayers for Mike and Debbie and their community as they piece their lives and town back together. J&C

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  17. Your brother was indeed blessed! What a story!

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  18. Wow...your brother is lucky guy! Enjoyed his narrative! Hugs, guys!

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