Monday, December 9, 2013

Moving Forward after the Washington, IL Tornado

I'm trying to decide if the last 3 1/2 weeks have gone by quickly or slowly.  I guess it probably depends on the day & time.  As I shared on November 19th, our house in the US was completely leveled by a tornado.  We've been through many emotions since then, but we did not loose as much as our neighbors and friends.  Our house is gone, but we are so fortunate that our memories and belongings were not scattered to the four winds. We are not digging through the rubble and our day-to-day lives have not been altered.  There is a bit of guilt (survivor's guilt?) mixed with gratefulness in this situation.

For some reason I really thought I would only need about a day to fully process everything (what was I thinking?!)  Instead, I spent a full 5 days completely engrossed in Facebook and trying to absorb any piece of information that I could and try and walk alongside those that were hurting.  Technology can be such a waste of time and distraction, but in this situation it has been helpful, healing and encouraging.  I always liked the community we had in Washington, but I have fallen in love all over again.  People have banded together and supported each other in such amazing ways.  

I almost passed by one of the posts on Facebook that showed 60 aerial photos of the tornado damage.  I wasn't sure if I could take in any more photos, but I am glad I clicked on the link because it gave me the best view of what our house looked like after the tornado.

Our subdivision...

Our street and our home...

Since the tornado, we have been in contact with our insurance agent, the insurance adjuster, friends helping coordinating the clean-up of our home, our renters and family. (The 14 hour time difference makes things a little more difficult.)  In the midst of all of that, I woke up one morning and saw that I had gotten my monthly update from Zillow on our Westminster home.  Zillow is a website that tracks real estate and it showed me this...

Now the estimate decrease was actually not related to the tornado, but I still managed to mutter something under my breath that was neither kind, helpful or spiritual!   

It has been hard for us to be so far from friends and neighbors and not be able to give them hugs, encouragement and help them clean-up.  But, we were able to "Wear Orange for Washington".  Orange and black are Washington High School's colors and people have been encouraged to wear orange to show support for the people of Washington.  Even though it is a small gesture, we were really excited to wear orange as a family to show our support.

Washington Strong
The support didn't stop at our apartment.  Jamie's co-workers in China also wore orange for Washington!  Very sweet!  They have also been raising money for the Red Cross in the United States.

Our renters and friends have started cleaning up our lot for us.  They have put in many hours of hard work looking for lost personal items, hauling debris to the curb and cleaning up our yard. 

Looking from the "kitchen" to the backyard.

 Looking from the laundry room to the north and what is Westminster Street.

Standing in the front living room and looking to the south-west, including the stairwell to the basement.

Looking from the west towards our garage.

Thank you to Barry Heisey, his skid steer and clean-up crew.  We are forever grateful to the support you have given to us!

We love to see Cat machines at work!

When I first saw this picture it took me a few moments to figure out what I was looking at.  This is taken from the south of our house and the electrical green box was at the edge of our property.  It used to be surrounded by trees, pea gravel, a fire pit and several small shrubs.

Where, oh where did all that pea gravel end up?

 Looking towards our neighbor's house to the east.

 Looking from the backyard towards Westminster Dr.

Part of the clean-up crew.

Hard at work.

And, what remains…the basement.

In the weeks and months to come I will begin posting about our life in China again and the adventures we are experiencing on this side of the globe.  But, never doubt for a moment that we are not continually thinking and praying for our friends and neighbors in Washington.

Washington strong!


  1. Oh Kara! So sorry you're going through this. I'm so happy, though, that everyone is safe and that you have a wonderful support system. Sending you hugs.

    1. A long overdue thank you for your kind words Luciana. Thank you! I hope you are doing well.

  2. Oh I'm so sorry to read about that! I think it's very difficult for you! Coraggio!

  3. Thank you for your kindness. It will be a long road for many, many people.