The Imperfect Storm

450 NWhoever came up with the phrase “the perfect storm” was obviously in some meteorologist’s office sitting in front of a radar screen with a cup of coffee and a doughnut next to them. They were not out in this so-called “perfect storm”. Yesterday, November 17th, 2013, we went through one of the most violent storms I’ve ever encountered. There was nothing perfect about it. It was more of an imperfect storm. A gross anomaly. Mother Nature retching upon her children in a violent display of power and might. Okay, you got me momma. I know just how insignificant and weak we truly are as humans. With a snap of your fingers we can become nothing but a twisted, bloody carcass buried amongst wood, stone, and cherished family possessions. A tree that once was comforting and beautiful becomes the battle axe for which the wind uses to obliterate our crackerboxes we call “home”. My wife, kids, and I were very, very lucky yesterday. My neighbors, not so much. My parents, not at all.

I jumped in the shower around 3:30pm. I figured if something was going to happen with the weather I wanted to at least be clean and not be stranded with no power with a stink on me. I got out of the shower around 3:50pm, and told my son to get some “real” clothes on, as opposed to pajama bottoms and a stained t-shirt. I looked outside and saw the rain picking up. Nothing too crazy, but it was picking up. My wife told everyone to go downstairs just to be safe. As the kids were heading down(with the exception of my son who was gathering Legos to take with him, I stood at the front door and suddenly felt pressure pulling at the screen door. The wind had picked up suddenly and the heavy rain began coming down sideways. The neighbor’s house was barely visible. My son was gathering Legos still when I told him to get downstairs…NOW! The house felt surrounded by whistles and rain drops that were hitting the siding like nails. We all had gotten downstairs and waited for a few moments, the kids playing on various handheld devices. The dog was flinging my son’s old Spiderman bouncy ball like a weightlifter using a kettle ball,only from his mouth. I decided to head upstairs to check on things. Once I got to the living room I saw the trees down across the street. I panicked and started running from room to room looking out our windows checking to make sure there wasn’t trees down in our yard, or lying on the fence out back. Other than limbs in the yard, we were okay. There was a pine that snapped in two that the top half of it was blocking the road. I went outside as the weather had settled down and there was a bit of sun coming through the clouds and I could get a better idea of what happened. It looked like a war zone. The neighbors to the right of us had a tree down and had crushed their daughter’s VW Beetle, as well as another car next to it. Across the street there were four or five trees down, one missing a house by a couple feet. I was in a bit of a daze. One, from all the damage around me and two from the fact that we came through this thing with really no damage.

I ran back inside and heard my cell phone ringing. It was my dad calling from work.

“Are you guys okay?” he said.

“Yeah, just a bunch of limbs in the yard.”

“Your mom called me. We got hit bad. There’s trees on the house, the shed and fence are damaged severely, and there’s power lines down. She’s shaken up. Can you go over there?” my dad asked me.

“I’ll go over as soon as I get the road cleared.”


I got over to my parent’s house and couldn’t believe it. There were two trees laying on the house, both on the southwest corner of the home that I grew up in. The chain length fence was non-existent on the west side of the backyard. The shed was leaning at an angle as a pine was uprooted next to it, lifting the shed off the ground. There was a hearty pine that had been snapped in half about ten feet from the fence, yet the top half did no damage to fence as the wind had taken that top half and carried it 15 feet over the fence into the woods(my brother and I are still a little in awe about that one.) My mom was on the phone with State Farm, REMC, my dad, and a guy to come out and help get the trees off her house. My brother and sister-in-law were there as well, surveying the damage. I took several photos for my parents so they had pics to show insurance. I got up on the roof to see what I could see. What I saw was a huge limb sticking into the roof. The limb had made its way through the roof and was sticking through the ceiling of one of the back bedrooms. Their neighbors got hit pretty hard as well, with a tree hitting the house in the front and in the back, and a limb protruding through the wall in their corner bedroom.

I was at my parent’s house till 7pm. Once we got one of the trees off the house there wasn’t much more we could do. The wind remained strong as hell through the night. This morning it still looked like a war zone, with trees down, limbs in the road, and the main road in front of our addition was still closed due to downed power lines. Poles snapped in two, with the top halves dangling in the air over the road like the twisted cross bar of a marionette.

In my head, the perfect storm would be one where I don’t even notice it. One where there aren’t trees blocking the road, crushing cars, and smashing roofs. Limbs aren’t impaling bedroom ceilings and power lines aren’t dangling inches from the roofs of cars. The perfect storm doesn’t involve my dad calling me panicked wanting me to check on my mom who’s home alone with two trees on her roof and her 14 year old miniature schnauzer freaking out. In reality, yesterday wasn’t the perfect storm. It was just a harsh reminder that we are indeed ants that mother nature can crush at any time. It’s awe-inspiring and terrifying all at once. She can terrify with winds up to 80mph, uprooting trees and pulling homes off their foundations like they’re nothing more than a plastic cup. Then pretty up the devastation with an ironic rainbow. A cherry on the destruction sundae.

Pics from the damage yesterday, most of which are at my parent’s home:


13 Replies to “The Imperfect Storm”

  1. I’m glad everyone is safe. And I’m with you on the definition of a perfect storm. Bad storms are traumatic. I hope your mom is alright and the clean up and repairs happen swiftly.


      1. Not this time of year, but we do get big storms. The fact that it was 65 degrees and pushing right into a cold front created one hell of a unpredictable situation.

        We’re expecting a light dusting of snow this time of year, not tornado alley.


  2. Somehow these storms are a fun reminder of our insignificance … until it affects someone we know. Those tree-piercings are terrifying, as is feeling the door sucked out of your grasp. May your future similar stories be more secondhand and less severe.


  3. It’s hard to imagine the feeling of helplessness against mother nature, living in Germany where even the strong storms usually can’t compare to these kinds of imperfect beasts. Glad, that you guys are ok. It feels a little cheesy to say that but in the end, the clichés work best when you don’t really have the right words.


    1. Not cheesy at all. I really appreciate that.

      I’ve wondered how storms play out in Europe. Here, they’re as unpredictable as anything. One minute nothing, the next the world is ending. Very humbling.


      1. Î am from the North of Germany, there’s not so much heavy storms that cause the problems but the rain because it floods. It’s hardly ever really threatening, though. But growing up at the sea and seeing some heavy rainstorms, stormy sea included…I know what you mean. There’s this sudden sense of utter vulnerability when you realize how strong nature can really get.


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