You know that old saying, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Currently, the saying here would be, " When Life gives you Rain...build an ark."
Over the past few months, the weather here feels more like Mother Nature is tearing pages out of the Weather Channels Guide to Natural Disasters to see just what would happen if I did this... page.
I have lived here all of my life and while there have been a few terrible things that have happened weather-wise, things of late have me quite concerned.
When I was a child one of my scariest weather memories was that of Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Granted I was a child then and impressionable, but if you are from this area anytime anyone mentions the word Agnes, you see the change in their face as they remember that horrible time.
What I do remember most from that time were the images on the news.... the flooding waters taking out everything in its path and the ground is so saturated with water that the coffins in the cemeteries were uprooted from their rest and the bodies (skeletons) were floating in the fast-moving waters. Horrific beyond words.
Living on the mountain I have always felt safe from ever having anything like that happening here...flooding and tornadoes that is. As a child I was told the mountain will protect us and those things happen in more low-lying places. How wrong I was to ever believe.
If you have followed me for a time, you may remember two years ago...August 1st, 2016 a torrential rainstorm flooded my home. I was sitting on the porch watching the rain that came slow at first and then pour so fast it was flooding the street in front of us. Definitely not something you see every day.
With the roar of thunder and lightning terrifying me, I decided to go inside and watch it from the window. Inside I heard something odd coming from the back of the house and when I went to look out of my back door, I saw my yard was flooded more than knee deep with water. I ran to get my husband and we went to the basement to check to see if the water was coming in. It was not only rushing past the outside cellar door, down the stairs, and under the inside door, it was pushing through the cinder block walls in numerous places.
Like something from a movie going in slow motion, my mind couldn't seem to wrap around the fact that my chain link fenced in yard was keeping all of this depth of water here and not letting it run through into the neighbor's yards but was allowing it to flood my home.
When I looked out of the attic window I saw that the alley behind my home had a sewer drain that was blocked and when it flooded the road behind our garage more than 175 feet away from our home, our property was lower than the two neighboring homes so the water runoff had a path to follow...like a trough...right down the back yard to our home.
It was a nightmare we had to clean up and bear the cost of ourselves...because this kind of stuff never happens here and we didn't have the extra flood insurance on our policy. Years ago, it was something that was included as part of your insurance and when the insurance company changed it to an additional purchase...it was one of those things "you don't need" living where you do, so you don't get it.
I am talking about the rain tonight, and weather, because that is what it has been doing here for some time now. Days.
Something that I once loved to listen to in the evening as it tapped gently against the window awnings as I drifted off to sleep now makes me shudder and what I may find in the morning after a night of pouring rain.
And the towns around me? A nightmare. Flooding to the south of me and to the west. Tonight's news had me in tears watching all of the devastation others are going through currently.
You know yourself, you watch the news from somewhere else and think...Wow, that is horrible I can't imagine, and you thank God it isn't you...
But you really don't know until, well... you know. We know.
I am not certain if the weather goes in certain patterns at certain times and these kinds of terrible things happen a lot...and maybe I just don't pay close enough attention to it...but I am noticing it now - of late....and it is noteworthy.
This July 25th after days of rain, two area amusement parks were flooded and had to close for a time.
The first one, Knoebel's Amusement Park floods often. It is located in one of those low-lying places that gets hit hard when it rains too much and honestly it sometimes doesn't feel like summer unless they are marking another flood level on the wall at the park and are closed for a major clean up.
But Hershey Park? Flooded? That shocked me.
I was shocked when a tornado hit the areas that I shop at weekly on June 13th, 2018 and devastated a business community.
We see it on the news and when you hear tornado you think...well, okay I think, out west somewhere. Flat Lands... Not here. We had that one hit in December 2006 in Mountaintop but that seemed to be a fluke.
On the evening of June 13th, the news stations all began interrupting regular television programming to keep people updated on what was happening and I thought...it's raining...again...is it that bad? They were talking about very strong winds and what areas to stay away from.
They spoke of some minor damages being reported and I listened intently not ever thinking it was that bad. They mentioned buildings were collapsing and again, I was thinking this is the area I shop in...how can this happen there? And the night went on, and the reporting continued and I went to bed hoping for the best.
The morning news shared what the area looked like when the sun came up and the devastation was unimaginable....and those who were at ground zero talked about what they saw, and felt and went through...and my heart sank for them.
There were six people still left working in the area stores and what they said hit me...and I will never forget it. And what I saw when I visited the area will never leave me either.
By the grace of God, no one was killed. I don't know how....because this is a heavily traveled area and what happened here...had it happened a few minutes in either direction time wise....and the news didn't broadcast all they did...I would be talking about more tragedy.
Those who saw it coming, the tornado, said it happened so quickly there isn't much you can do.
The man in the Barnes and Nobel Bookstore said he saw it coming and ran in the dark to the back of the store only to find...there was no longer a back of the store anymore...Only the night's sky...and pouring rain....and wind. ( I got goosebumps writing that), and his words made me cry hearing it.
I think it was the Panera workers who spoke of being pushed up against the walls inside of the business as the winds came and the glass broke and one worker was accidentally locked inside of the cooler. Her co-worker would later speak of what happened and how he then went to help his co-workers get out. These people came to work on a regular, nothing special kind of day...and the rain came and life - as it sometimes does - changed.
When the area opened up again for the businesses that were unaffected, we went to shop and as you drove past the destruction you are left with this eerie feeling seeing everything before you. I will add the photos I had taken below. Words...aren't enough.
The businesses that were unaffected continue on and those destroyed are in various stages of repair, removal, and rebuilding. Many are hoping for a holiday reopening, while the strip mall that housed Panera, America's Best and those others is slated to be taken down. There is nothing left but the front wall and twisted metal behind it...everything else is gone.
The path the tornado took zigzagged through businesses hitting a few, then changing course and affecting others. I did include a few videos above for a better view.
The area where Lowes, Ulta Beauty, Michaels Craft stores are located went untouched yet Dicks Sporting Goods, ( their sign ended up miles away) TJMaxx, Staples and a few others were destroyed...and on the other end of those connected stores only minimal damage was done and those stores were open when it was safe to turn the power back on.
In the same vicinity Target, Marshalls, Ross and those other stores down to Babies R Us remained untouched...But the strip mall that housed Panera Bread, America's Best Eyeware ( yes that is a chair stuck in the facade of the front by the sign ), and all of those stores were desimated. Pet Smart has some damage...and Barnes and Nobels Bookstore was a mess. The area in front of these stores - gave you the first look at the destruction as you made your way up the main road.
UHaul...gone, the Furniture Stores and the few other stores attached....hit hard and gone. The Ken Pollack Car dealership had bunches of cars upside down and in other locations. They are currently holding a " Tornado of 2018 Sale - Our cars are flying off of the Lot!"
Yet, there was a flower tent set up in front of these furniture stores and only a handful of flower pots were blown over... A Few! Just blown over. Not one table got toppled...Not one plant was missing.
The strip club lost a few roof shingles...( good thing it was only that light damage - if you know what I mean). OYE.
And the tornado never crossed the highway and took out the mall that is very close by.
When we went up the road to go to Target and I was snapping photos as we kept moving I saw one thing that made me smile. If I didn't post the great picture of it I will find the one I took....
A plastic wrapped Christmas Tree standing...among the decades of hard work now reduced to rubble....Probably stuck in a closet or storage room....waiting for the next season to be brought out once more to celebrate. Now standing in the light of day...untouched.