The day had been beautiful; the brothers had even been canoeing to celebrate their parents’ upcoming anniversary. They were grilling on their deck with family and friends when everyone heard a sudden, terrible noise. Sam said it only took a matter of seconds for the sky to change to a sickly yellow color.
“The next thing we knew my dad was screaming at us, ‘Go downstairs!’” Parker said.
The winds hit in the next instant; friends and family members were separated in the dash to take cover.
Sam hid with others in a basement closet and couldn’t even get the door shut before the storm descended.
He saw windows shatter, debris swirl around him and houses across the street crumble.
“My mom didn’t actually make it down to the closet with us. She was upstairs for a second longer than the rest of us, so throughout the whole time stuff was flying around nobody had a clue where she was. … It was absolutely terrifying,” Sam said. Thankfully, she had found refuge in another closet.
When the family exited their hiding places just moments after the storm hit, they saw a new, terrible landscape. Their home’s second floor was open to the sky; rain was pouring in. Their neighborhood was now a debris field with downed trees crisscrossing all the roads.
“You’re in a state of complete chaos — people were yelling, screaming, looking for their loved ones,” Sam said.
They all pitched in. Sam’s first thought was to check on a nearby household with small children (fortunately finding the family had not been home during the storm).
Next, they gathered what they could from the wreckage: They had to find a new place to live for the night, for the week, for who knew how long. They lived with their grandmother for about two months. The family now has a rental home as they rebuild, which could take nine months to a year.
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