Sunday, April 16, 2006

Two Days Later

Yesterday was a picture perfect spring day in Iowa City. I spent most of the day cleaning up the outside of my house and yard. The more I worked, the harder I worked. I couldn’t seem to let myself stop. The fallen tree branches, sticks and bits of other people’s houses seemed endless.

As I tended to my gardens, I was in awe that not a single petal seemed to have been damaged by the storm. Just next door, the neighbor’s flowerbeds had been stripped bare. Four majestic trees still circle my house. I noticed their perfection as a chainsaw revved up to tear apart an uprooted 200-year old tree half a block away. Two blocks away, you can buy a 2006 Jeep at rock bottom prices … as long as you don’t mind the shattered windows and hail damage. All along Riverside Drive, blue tarps flap in the wind where the roofs of buildings have been ripped away. On the ground below the tarps, dump trucks busily take load after load of debris to the landfill.

Halfway through the day, I dared a quick trip across town to pick up a few necessities. The tornado’s path was evidenced by the destruction left behind.

Tornadoes don’t strike cities.
Tornadoes don’t cross water.
This one didn’t follow the rules.

As I drove through town, I took note of the things I saw. It’s not as if I hadn’t witnessed such things before. But this is MY town. These are MY people. That twister took away parts of US and OUR history.

The tears didn’t come until I saw College Green Park. It’s a cute little one-square block park near down town. It has playground equipment, a gazebo, park benches, picnic tables, shady areas, and open sunny spaces. Two decades ago, my girlfriends and I would pretend to study on blankets in the sunshine as we watched handsome college boys play frisbee. I’d attended or organized a dozen or more music and political events for sexual assault awareness, gay-les-bi-trans rights, pro-choice and other such things that had taken place there. I’d chased my nephews through the playground and pushed them on the swings. Its been home to countless picnics and long talks with good friends. Yesterday, I saw our beautiful park in ruins. Most of the trees are missing or snapped in two. Bulldozers and trucks cover the grass. There are no more shady places. It’s destroyed. Despite the fact that I was personally spared by this storm, I couldn’t stop the tears. Something about this felt very personal.

I went back home and worked on my yard. I worked until my hands were bloody from cuts and scratches and I could barely lift my arms. It was the only thing to do. In the end I know we're very fortunate. This is only a tiny fraction of what the folks in the Gulf have had to bear. And no matter what, we can rebuild and re-grow. We were very lucky to be spared the loss of life … all but one family anyway. My friend Dick lost his niece to this storm. I grieve for him most of all.

*(The picture above is about 6 blocks from Lu's house)

Oh ... Happy Easter to you all.


At 1:45 PM, Blogger ZooooM said...

I'm lucky enough to never have witnessed anything like this. Even California's worst quakes and the damage have always been so far away from me that I've gotten my view from the news.

I'm so sorry T. I'm glad you are ok and the house made it. Your flowers too. But I think I can guess at the kind of pain seeing the destruction around you is causing. I can't know how much though.

I hope rebuilding gives everyone a sense of victory over the weather.

At 4:34 PM, Blogger Ed said...

I also feel extremely lucky to never having experienced anything like this. The destruction in that photo is just terrible.

Hoping you have the strength to get over this.

At 6:54 AM, Blogger Dick the Boomer said...

My heart and my thoughts are with you, Theresa. May you find strength within your grief.

At 8:44 AM, Blogger Spin_Doc1 said...

Oh Sweetie, I wish I was there to help you pick up.

At 9:28 AM, Blogger joy said...

Your strength and resilience will get you through this T. Thank God you and your loved ones are alright. Will keep you and your community in my prayers.

At 11:54 AM, Blogger naive-no-more said...

T~ I can recant many phrases and lots of words that people smugly recited to me in my time of trial - to make me feel better about the situation; but as a friend, I'll just say I'm so sorry that you had to experience this. Hugs.

At 12:56 PM, Blogger Blazngfyre said...

I can relate so well to what you have witnessed and experienced.
I felt the same way 1 1/2yrs ago when we were hit with one hurricane after another.
I wasn't personally affected, but the city was. People I knew were.
At times, I felt guilty for feeling so blessed.

Keeping you and Lu, and everyone else around you in my thoughts.
Much love ....

At 4:33 PM, Blogger Aisha T. said...

Oh, Theresa, I'm so sorry! The pictures bring it closer to home and more of a reality for all of us that are not there.

At 8:29 PM, Blogger Brea said...

I've never had any personal experience with natural disaster. Thank you for letting me view it from your eyes. Very powerful blog.

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Sumeeta said...

My goodness, I had no idea that you lived in the midwest. You really brought home, for me, how devastating a storm like this can be. You can rebuild, but you can never recover what has been lost. I hope that you and your family will be okay.

At 10:28 PM, Blogger JayneSays said...

Oh, Theresa, I am so sorry for what you and your community are going through right now. You are in my thoughts.

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Wow...ground zero. Maybe what they say is true...'destruction is a part of construction.'

Maybe part of this rebuilding is re-discovering our own strengths (that often lie dormant; just unused capacity)...and that those strengths can be magnified ten fold whenever we bond together with someone else that shares our sufferings and difficulties to help one another "get by."

I have a dream...

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Unacknowledged Genius said...

I sincerely hope you're doing okay, Theresa. I wish I could help in some way. I know firsthand the devastation a tornado can cause, although it's been many many years since I went through one.

At 11:02 AM, Blogger AndyT13 said...

Words fail! I'm SO glad you're OK.
I've seen a twister closer than I wanted to but that's WAY past the legal limit. I just keep saying Holy shit so I'll stop now. Geez.
Thinking of you. My own petty little tragedy doesn't seem very significant all of a sudden. Whoa.

At 11:09 AM, Blogger Barry said...

Not much you can do, but keep working at what you know. I am never sure why this stuff happens, glad to see you are OK though.

At 11:51 AM, Blogger Julie said...

Oh wow! Isn't it funny how we can complain about the things in our lives that seem so big and destructive and then we hear about other peoples' losses and it makes our mountains seem like molehills! I am thinking of you and of your town. Thank you for helping me pick my head up and see what is going on in other parts of the country. That picture is shocking.

At 12:50 PM, Blogger gnightgirl said...

There are so few words. It's Gut-wrenching, and terrifying. Living in the midwest, with constant spring watches and warnings, so few people take them seriously. Once I hear the sirens, I head for cover. ALWAYS.

At 6:57 PM, Blogger nosthegametoo said...

Hey Love,

Just stoping by to say hello. I miss reading your blog reguarly.

Peace and Love

At 7:16 PM, Blogger Shephard said...

Words are inadequate. I hope you're doing well, and that you somehow find something positive to take away from such devastation.
Maybe you can be involved in restoring the park, taking donations for trees, etc.


At 4:54 PM, Blogger Al said...

buckeyeGive lu a hug for me

At 9:16 AM, Blogger Bougie Black Boy said...

wow. that picture is amazingly disturbing!

At 1:11 PM, Blogger Stephen Bess said...

That's terrible. The picture is difficult to look at. Human suffering is always difficult for me. It's nice to know that you are physically doing well. God bless.

At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really just happy you're OK. I love Iowa City and am sorry to see so messed up. I'll probably be by in June and will come take a look.

At 7:23 PM, Blogger Polyman2 said...

Sorry to hear
of your greif Theresa,
Wasn't even aware
there were storms.

hope all gets better soon.
Courage. xxx

At 3:45 AM, Blogger Laurie said...

OMG, Theresa! I've been away from cyberspace for a while and I totally missed this post. I'm sorry...

I'm glad that you weren't hurt, but I know you all had to have been scared to death at the time and I cannot imagine how surreal everything must have felt afterwards.


At 12:34 AM, Blogger Imelda said...


I'm coming in a bit late here, but I just wanted to let you know that you, your friends and your community are in my thoughts.

We had a serious wave of bushfires here a few years ago. It was an uncontrollable inferno that took many houses, vast swathes of national park, and unfortunately several lives. I can identify with what you wrote about your park because we too lost many beautiful places that had years worth of history to a significant number of people.

Three years later it still looks like a bit of a moonscape, but nature is trying her hardest to bring back life to the places we once knew and treasured.

Time and teamwork will heal the wounds for your community too.

Take care,
Imelda xxx


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