The Monday after Easter Sunday, we drove to Murfreesboro, Tn for a conference which Stephen was attending. We were supposed to stay there from Monday afternoon and leave Wednesday afternoon.
Wednesday morning at 5am, while we all slept comfortably in our beds, a loud alarm sounded followed by a ladies voice asking everyone to please evacuate to the lobby to be directed to a safe location as a tornado was in our area. We made sure everyone was decently covered and carried our frightened children down the stairs (I was not ABOUT to ride the elevator). As we were escorted into the kitchen where they had lined up rows of chairs, everyone looked at our kids and said "oh, poor things, they're so scared", which of course made the kids snuggle up closer to us. We waited here for awhile before they released us. The girls were terrified.
After this we went back to our room, watched the news, scavenged for any info we could on our hometown area and waited. We soon realized we were NOT going home. So we went ahead and booked another night at the hotel.
Thursday morning as we were driving home, we spent the time calling to check on friends and family or listening to the news on the radio. It was horrifying to find out how much damage had been done and wonder if everyone we knew was okay.
I had to drop Stephen off at work. The kids and I came home and found there was no power. Most of my family was accounted for by this point. I drove by to check on a friend I couldn't get a hold of. Together, we called some more friends and got good reports. Then the kids and I went to Barnes&Noble where I found out that I was not the only person there wanting to charge up my phone in any available outlet, but I found a vacant one :) Then we went home.
Here's where it gets a little complicated. Before we knew that there were going to be any storms or that we were going to be in Murfreesboro one extra night, we had already scheduled a camping trip with my uncle for the weekend. Now we didn't have power, clean clothes or anything and we couldn't get a hold of him. I found out that there were tornados in his area and started to panic. I started thinking, what do we do if we get up there and he's not there? Search hospitals?
At this point, we haven't slept much...the hotel bed was not the best. And since our house didn't have power, Stephen couldn't sleep with his CPAP machine and therefore I didn't sleep either. Friday morning I drove to Sherry and David's and took a shower, did laundry, and let everyone know on facebook that we were alive and well. We went home, packed for a camping trip, prayed this was indeed going to be a camping trip and that all was well with my uncle. Stephen got home and we took off.
Well, he was fine! He just was not able to get a hold of us. Thank you to everyone who prayed for us. We had a really great time with him in Cade's Cove. We saw over 100 dear, 5 black bear and lots of turkey and other birds. The kids enjoyed their camping experience VERY much.
But I have to say that after the tornado devastation, the strong winds that shook our tent and bent the huge trees and moaned loudly were NOT welcome. Sounds that I would normally find a little thrilling, completely terrified me. The second night we were there, the wind was INSANE. Stephen moved our 3 sleeping kids into the back of the van and he and I crawled into the front. That's where we "camped" the second night. And just so you know that I wasn't just being a fraidy cat, my uncle got into his car too, and he always sleeps outside.
We came back home Sunday, grateful that all of our friends and family were safe. We had some friends with house damage, but praise God, they were safe! But it was a sober ride home as we wondered if things were as bad as rumored.
We got home to a house still without power. Our friends that we do school with once a week, invited us to stay in their house, which we eagerly accepted. We immediately packed back up, drove over to their house, and took showers. That night we plugged in Stephen's CPAP machine and slept like babies!
That's OUR story of a time we will all remember. Yesterday, our power came back on....I'm very grateful. For EVERYTHING. I pray that God will grant comfort and help to those who lost homes and most especially, to those who lost loved ones.