It seems we have been inundated with storms, storms, and more storms for the beginning weeks of the summer. Our little area has been relatively lucky… UNTIL Wednesday night. I was fortunate enough to get off work in time to go the the City Band concert (more in that later). I got home around 9:15. I went out to the beauty shop to finish cleaning. At 9:30, here go the sirens (AGAIN). Looking out the window, there wasn’t a lot to see at the moment so we decided to step outside and see what we could see. In the west, we could see the sky lit up up lightning. However, as our neighbor pointed out, it was eerily silent: no birds, no mosquitos (I noticed that myself). A half hour later, I felt a rather large raindrop and decided that was enough for me. Thirty seconds later, the power went out. So… my brother, his wife, and two kids, my sister and her two little ones, my mother and I all headed to the basement. Someone failed to get batteries for the flashlights or the radio so Dad was upstairs lighting candles. The rest of us lit our way into the chamber of secrets armed with cell phone illumination.
Around 11, we headed back upstairs. The corded phone in the kitchen rang. A neighbor was just informed that the town hall had been hit. Dad and a neighbor went up to check it out. The night was so dark that they could not see any sign of damage. Our side of town was completely black.
By this time, the excitement was over. Everyone decided to stay the night and hope that there was no damage in the morning. It gets hotter than…. upstairs with a fan/air conditioning so I slept on the couch. About midnight, a car pulls up and someone comes in. Still not being able to see, I shouted “Who goes there?” “It’s me!” Well… that helps a lot! It was our oldest sibling who had been out driving, surveying the damage. And HE had power at his house. Go figure.
The next morning, I walked around a bit before going to work. Limbs, branches, trees toppled. The east wall of the Flea Market wiped out. VERY noticeable now… the gaping hole in the 120+ year old former town hall. It really looked like a missile went through it! Also gone was poor “Clem” the one casualty of the war. He had been standing guard in front of the building for years whether he was in the courtyard or in the middle of State Route 49. I am too young to remember his transfer from the road, One of our fine firemen was injured while he was outside rolling up car windows… nothing life threatening but a broken femur.
At work all day, we joked out the condition of the town hall debate. For the last few years, the historical society had been wanting to purchase the condemned building, restore the second floor opera house from yesteryear, and create a museum dedicated to the town. A worthy ambition to be sure. But where was the money for this undertaking to come from? Well, I guess that debate was settled Wednesday night.
Like many storms, it is just amazing the spottiness of the devastation. Indiana Street was definitely the hardest hit. Two blocks north along North Michigan Avenue, I found a small branch lying on the ground. Family safe… could have been so much worse.
The strange thing the weather “experts” have yet to assess the situation fully and state unequivocally what caused the damage.