Two weeks ago a delivery truck pulled up in front of my house to unload a stack of roof sheets for our extension. It felt like Christmas morning. Excitement was quickly replaced with frustration when we learned they had only delivered four sheets instead of forty.
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Oh the joys of renovating.
Luckily, we had successfully had a front porch slab poured the day before so we still had something to be grateful for. We spent the day eating our feelings, telling ourselves that everything happens for a reason and made an afternoon plan to get the kids early from day care and go to the pool.
Around 3:45pm Paul yelled for my mom, Donna, and me to “come watch the storm roll in over the mountains.” I stepped out on our glorious new slab that was getting speckled with raindrops. I inhaled the smell of hot, wet concrete and said, “How good is this? We have a rain watching porch!” Then I said, “Quick! Let’s get in the car and get the kids before the rain really starts coming down.”
We only made it onto Henry Lawson Drive before our world looked like a scene out of The Wizard of Oz. Sheets of rusty metal and tree branches were flying in our direction. Paul pulled the car over and we hunkered down to protect our bodies in case something impaled or decapitated us through the car window. I listened to the catastrophic wind barrel through Mudgee as I wondered what the storm could be. Was it a tornado? A hurricane? Was a maniacal witch going to come riding by in the sky? I don’t know if it’s because I’m from Florida and I’ve seen first hand what a storm can do, but I genuinely thought I was going to die.
I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t indoors. I wasn’t with my kids. Trying to make a survival plan, I pictured Helen Hunt in Twister. Did I have to belt and a nearby water pipe? I then started to picture my kids trapped in a building under a tree.
“The kids!” I cried as Paul tried to figure out what to do.
He wanted to keep driving and get them, but I knew it was way too dangerous. We managed to get back to our house and ran inside to find my mom in tears.
“I thought you were dead,” she sobbed.
She had been on her way to find a safe hallway to protect herself in because she had heard some of our roof sheets blow off, watched our boat spin through our yard and detailed how our trampoline had taken flight and disappeared into the abyss of Bombira.
Within minutes the wind and rain stopped. The sun came out. Birds chirped. Trees were uprooted, branches had crushed our fences, our new porch frame was cracked and twisted. Our trampoline had blown two acres away and looked like a tangled tarantula. Luckily, everyone (including our kids) was okay.
When I drove through town the next day I cried because people were working together and it was beautiful. I cried because the storm was horrific, but not a fraction as bad as Hurricane Katrina and I couldn’t imagine what they had endured. I cried because what if the trees and rubble had been people and the result of a war and my heart ached for Aleppo.
I also thought about how lucky we were that we didn’t roof our house that day.
Get Summer Land’s hilarious memoir, Summerlandish: Do As I Say, Not As I Did, here or at The Shop by Botobolar at 28 Church Street.
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