Reflection in the Aftermath

Warning: rambling, somewhat disconnected post ahead!

On Friday my city was hit with a severe storm that included two tornadoes. Much of the city was left entirely without power for days – in fact, I only got my power back late last night.

My older sister, who lives out of town, was giving me updates over the hours and days that I was without power, detailing damage to the other areas of the city, where I could go that still had electricity so I could charge my phone and get something to eat, she even kept me company on the phone when I had to trek up and down ten flights in the scary stairwell in my building, because she knew I was afraid. She did so much for me, all of this and so much more, yet kept saying she wished she could be here and do more, because that’s just the kind of amazing woman she is.

All of my sisters were wonderful, spread out throughout the city, checking up on one another, giving updates, offering help to one another, to help me. People in this city were also wonderful, some families and individuals opening up their homes to others who were impacted, some businesses offering free food to people in the community without power. Funny how in these times of crisis, communities tend to bond, become more open, more friendly. Never before have I had so many random conversations with complete strangers in such a short period of time. There were so many small moments of genuine niceness and warmth during all of this chaos and sadness. It’s weird to think that, for me at least, this lasted only about two and a half days, because those days seemed to last forever. I’m only just now beginning to process all of this.

Today I’ve been catching up on the news, watching the footage of the storm, seeing the photos my sister told me about over the phone and it has left me shaken and completely overwhelmed with emotion. Seeing the houses that were completely destroyed by the tornadoes, the downed trees and power lines, the destruction. One of the areas that was hit the hardest by one of the tornadoes is mere blocks from my father’s house, where my sisters and I lived from the time I was 15. Yesterday, while taking a bus home from the shopping centre where I (and many countless others in the city) had been going to charge my phone, I got to see some of the devastation in this area firsthand.

There was a very audible, collective gasp from everyone on the bus as it turned down streets where numerous houses were missing roofs and there were trees that had been pulled right from their roots scattered over lawns. It was heartbreaking, shocking and devastating to see. I fell asleep last night with the images of those houses playing over and over in my mind.

I’ve always gotten through things and processed experiences by writing them out (which I guess is why I’m writing all of this down here, now), but somehow I can’t seem to put all of this into words, maybe because it is all still so fresh, but at the same time coming to me like snap shots or short videos in my mind, just flashes of images. The crowded mall, with people camped outside of stores so they could charge their phones, or the impossibly long lines for food and coffee. The houses I saw destroyed in a neighborhood I know so well. My own neighborhood, undamaged, but terrifying to walk through without any traffic lights, and all the stores with hand written signs saying they were closed until further notice due to the storm. The torrential rain and incredible wind blowing trees out my window that I didn’t take anywhere near as seriously as I should have – just another Ottawa storm, I thought. The people walking aimlessly through my neighborhood looking lost, like ghosts. The person with the makeshift table handing out bottled water and food to their neighbors in the area I went through by bus with all of those damaged houses and trees. The dark hallways of my building lit only by red Exit signs that were always so terrifying to walk through. The pitch black stairwell in my building lit only by my dying flashlight the first morning after the storm.

I know that I am incredibly, incredibly lucky. All I lost to this storm was a few days of electricity and a fridge full of food, but so many people lost so much more. I’m grateful that by completely random luck or chance, neither myself or anyone in my family was catastrophically impacted by this storm. I thank my lucky stars that we are all okay. I know it could have been so much worse, watching news segments like this one reminds me just how lucky I am:

My heart goes out to everyone who was impacted by the storm.

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18 thoughts on “Reflection in the Aftermath

    • Thanks Tilly. *hug* ❤ It was definitely scary, but things are finally starting to go back to normal – I mean, at least for the people like me who didn't have major damage to their homes and stuff like that. I'm just so grateful that my loved ones are okay and that as far as I know, no lives were lost!

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  1. Wow, you were too close to the danger. It is indeed haunting to see the outer walls of peoples’ homes peeled away, making their bedrooms, closets, dressers, bathrooms, garage contents, etc., exposed to everyone driving down the street. I’m glad your place came out unscathed and your power is back. Several days is a long time to be without. It sounds like your community is rallying around everyone affected. That’s the best of people coming out. ❤ I hope it doesn't take too long for people to start feeling like they have their lives back.

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    • I was lucky that I was only really close (and saw all of that destruction) after the danger had already passed, and that my neighborhood/area was only without power for so long because the power station/transformer that powers my area was hit by one of the tornadoes but that it was far enough away that my area was largely unscathed minus the loss of electricity and some damaged trees. Seeing those houses that were destroyed was definitely haunting, you’re right! Learning after from reading the news that some apartment buildings were damaged by the tornadoes really hit home to me how lucky I was – I was always under the completely stupid and mistaken impression that being in an apartment building would somehow keep me safe if a tornado hit, don’t know how I got that into my head, but that sure was a wake up call. The people in the community really did rally around one another and that was so wonderful to see and experience. As glad and relieved as I am that my life feels like it’s going back to normal, I really do hope too that it doesn’t take long for other people who experienced more loss and devastation in terms of their homes, etc, can start to feel the same way. I know for them it will take much, much longer and that they have so much more to recover from. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to lose your home and absolutely everything you own. My heart really goes out to them – and to everyone who went through this or has gone through anything similar.

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    • I definitely was! I’m so grateful, because I know it could have been so much worse, as frightening as it was. I’ve definitely taken some good lessons from going through something like this, and it has really made me appreciate my life and my loved ones even more.

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    • Thank you so much for this sweet comment, it means so much to me. ❤ Life is definitely going back to normal, and it's so weird to think that this only happened just over a week ago now. Big storms are still really scary after that one, but luckily there has only really been one since and it was just a normal storm. I think a lot of people will be on edge when it comes to them for awhile though – I know I will be! – because that one just got so bad, so fast and I don't think anyone could have really predicted how bad it would be or properly prepared for it. I live in a city where we often get tornado warnings, especially in the summer, but it very rarely ever happens right in the city, and I don't know that we have ever had any that were that serious. One thing I've learned from this is that I never want to be so horribly unprepared again, especially with the way things are now with climate change and all sorts of natural disasters becoming more and more common and more and more devastating. I'm definitely going to be putting together an emergency kit for situations like these just in case and have already been collecting things like batteries, flashlights, etc, because those were some of the first things the city ran out of!

      Sending you lots of love too, thank you so much again for your sweet comment. 🙂 ❤

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  2. I’m glad you’re okay. I remember feeling like that when I was a teenager and there was a bushfire that burned near my hometown. It did a lot of damage and took some lives. It didn’t touch my home or family, but I still remember all these small moments and the shock of it all. People were so dazed in the aftermath.

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    • Thanks Lucy. *Hugs* Wow, that bushfire must have been so terrifying! And that’s definitely how people seemed here – dazed. It’s very surreal to think about the whole thing now, even a week or so later. We had another storm a few days later that ended up being just a normal, run of the mill, torrential late-Summer Ottawa rain storm, but boy, riding home on the bus and seeing the black clouds overhead and the rain start pouring down made every single person on that bus white knuckled with tension, including me. I’m just glad things are finally starting to go back to normal and that as far as I’ve been able to find out from reading the reports, no one died.

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    • Thank you! I really like that, your mom sounds like one smart and amazing lady! I’ll definitely be keeping that in mind. 🙂 Things have slowly been going back to normal, I’m grateful for how incredibly lucky I was, especially with all of the absolutely horrific natural disasters the world has seen over the last few years alone – even in this past month! I know that what happened here could have been so, so much worse. I think one good thing that came out of it is that even as an already highly empathetic person, it has made me even more empathetic to others who go through any kind of disaster like this and it’s pushed me to want to do what I can to help others even more. If anything, I’ve been feeling weirdly guilty for having been so emotionally effected by this when there are so many others (even in my own city) who have definitely experienced so much worse. But even with that conflicted mess of emotions, I’m just so grateful that I’m okay and the people I love are okay and that (as far as I know from reading reports) no one lost their lives.

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