Gone.

Monday, May 26th, 2008

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know.

Yesterday what is being estimated as an F-4 Tornado hit Parkersburg, Iowa. Our hometown.

Our town. The place where we grew up. The community where we know the neighbors and the businesses and the streets.

Or at least, we did. From what I’ve heard, even natives don’t know the streets now.

The school is gone, the middle ripped out leaving only a shell to stand as Command Center. The Kwik Star is gone. The restaurant is gone.

And the homes… gone. Jared’s mom and dad’s house. His brother and sister-in-law’s house. Gone. Literally. A pile of rubble standing where a home was yesterday morning.

The pictures. The china. The dining room table that was her grandmother’s.

Gone.

My family is safe. One of my best friend’s babies was taken to the ER last night, and that’s all that I know. The last count I heard was 5 dead, 15 injured.

Dead. Injured. Gone.

I can’t even tell you what an eerie feeling it is to hear about your Home being ripped apart, destroyed, from 1400 miles away. To frantically try to get someone on the phone. To watch your husband hold back tears as he listens to his mom cry “it’s gone. It’s all gone. Everything is gone.” To scour the web for reports, hoping for a picture or video or sound. Something to tie you to it. Something to connect you to the people who are hurting.

Your people. Lost. Torn. Broken. Clinging to one another in relief as they find people alive.

I know I should be grateful because my family is safe. I can still say I have pictures of my babies. My life is safe. Untouched.

And I am overwhelmed with guilt.

It is not enough for me to be safe. My community is hurting, it’s heart has been ripped out. I shouldn’t be OK. I shouldn’t be 1400 miles away. I shouldn’t only know of this devastation through reporters and grainy footage.

I need to know. I need to see. I need to hold them in my arms. I need to plow through the wreckage beside them.

Those are my people. That is my town.

Even from 1400 miles away.

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  1. Hilly says:

    I don’t have the words to make it better but I wish I did. I wish I could tell you not to feel guilty, but I am a lot like you and would too.

    I’m here for you. Always. And I am saying lots of prayers.

  2. Karl says:

    God, Britt, I was so sorry to hear about this on Twitter earlier. Funny how little coverage there is on TV about it. My prayers are with your family and town.

  3. Honeybell says:

    I’m so sorry. I’ve lived in a town leveled by a tornado (our house was one of 3 left standing), it is a surreal experience. Don’t let the guilt overwhelm you, because in spirit you’re right there.

  4. Stephanie says:

    :heartbeat: (((((((((Britt))))))))))))

  5. Britt- I’m so sorry. I’m also so glad all of your loved ones are OK. No other words to say except, I care.

  6. Sybil Law says:

    Sucks big time. I am glad everyone is safe, right? Still – I get it. I had family – close family- in NY for 9/11. It was horrible. The helplessness is the worst feeling. My warm, fuzzy thoughts are with you. :hug:

  7. Selma says:

    That is terrifying. Thank God everyone is OK but to lose everything you hold dear just like that – that will take a long time to come to terms with. I am praying for you all. How devastating.

  8. Mamacita says:

    Oh my gosh, I am so sorry. I will be thinking about you and sending healing thoughts your way; that’s a feeble attempt to help but it’s all I’ve got from a distance. But if you can think of anything at all people can do for you from far away, please let us know? People are kind, and people really do care.

  9. claire says:

    It’s hard being away when you feel you’re needed. I’m glad your family is safe though.

  10. Fantastagirl says:

    Sending all kinds of good thoughts their way – I’m so sorry that his family is going through this, but they are alive, and for that I’m glad.

    Hugs to you and yours.

  11. Tracy Lynn says:

    :cry: Praying for you and for them. :hug:

  12. martymankins says:

    My thoughts are with you, your family and your hometown at this time.

  13. Mr. Fabulous says:

    I’m thinking of you and yours. :hug:

  14. Karen says:

    So sorry. I will keep your community in my prayers.

  15. Sending the best thoughts I can to You, Jared and your families …. :hug:

  16. Nina says:

    I am sorry, honey. My brother was born in Ames, Iowa, and we feel a special connection to that place. Please let us know who to send help to and we’ll get right on it. Love to you and all your people.

  17. kilax says:

    Oh my gosh. What a horrible disaster. I think just calling, and keeping in touch with people, and letting them talk out their shock is helpful :)

    P.S. I am from Waterloo, Iowa

  18. flutter says:

    No guilt. Your being ok, doesn’t make them less ok. Your being hurt wouldn’t help.

    Thinking of you

  19. Nobody™ says:

    :hug: Let me know if there’s something I can do to help.

    We got lucky, it missed us, but it hit the next town north pretty hard. Things didn’t really settle down until after 11:30pm.

  20. Chris says:

    My thoughts are with you and your family Britt. Thank the goddess that your families are safe.

  21. Oh god. Mother nature is being such a bitch at the moment. That must be absolutly devestating. I am truly, truly sorry.

  22. Penelope says:

    I can’t even begin to imagine what you are all going through right now Britt, I’m so sorry!
    Hugs sweetie, for all of you. :hug:

  23. Mattie says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry Britt. I wish I could find the words to tell you how sorry I am that your family and Jared’s family had to go through this.

  24. Zom says:

    As someone who lost everything in Katrina, I know what it’s like. And I am so very sorry for you and your family. I’m relieved to hear they are okay though. those same storms are coming through here today … and I’m terrified. :cry:

  25. Nat says:

    It’s frustrating to know there is nothing you can do.

    Hugs.

  26. Coast Rat says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your families.

  27. Dawn says:

    Ohhhh! :sad:

    :hug:

  28. Musing says:

    Oh, no. I am so very, very sorry.

  29. Marissa says:

    :hug: :heartbeat:

  30. Jen says:

    I am saying many prayers for Jared’s family and yours as well. :hug: :heartbeat:

  31. Dude, I am so sorry. It was all over the news last night. I am glad your family’s safe and hope that rebuilding is fast and easy. Good luck to Your whole town, man.

  32. Sodapop says:

    Sending lots of love and prayers your way and to your families. I wish there was something I could say to make it better. *hugs*

  33. ajooja says:

    I’m so sorry. Here’s one more virtual hug.

  34. ~jtm says:

    So sorry, Britt…they will be in my thoughts.

  35. survivor’s guilt is a bitch. it hurt my stomach to read your twitter twats and now how much you and jared were hurting. i’m so sorry that your family and your town experienced such disaster.

    it is so easy to sit here, typing “please don’t should on yourself, britt” and tell you to not feel guilty. the fact remains is that you just do and there is nothing that you can do to stop it. just please know that it is ok for you to have not been there, it is ok for you to live in florida, it is ok for you to concentrate on the positive of the physical safety of your family and friends, it is ok for you to cry over their losses. and don’t for a minute think that anyone there is angry that you are safe in florida.

    love ya lady. i’m still praying for you, your family and your town.

    :heartbeat:

  36. sam says:

    I was tossing and turning all night thinking about you. I am so very sorry. Coming from a small town where everyone knows everyone else, I can only imagine what you’re feeling and what you’re going through.

    You’re in my heart Britt. You and your families. :hug:

  37. tab says:

    I would feel the same way. I am praying for your community. :hug:

  38. Anonymous says:

    I’m so sorry to hear. Be sure to let us all know what we can do.

  39. DaDuck says:

    My thoughts are with you and your family. I know what it is like to be far away from home and have something like this happen. Drive safe!

  40. Andria says:

    I am so sorry… thoughts and prayers for all involved.

  41. Stephanie says:

    Drive safe, Britt & Jared….I’ll be praying for you all! :hug:

  42. Frankie says:

    Britt :hug: for you and your family. Drive safe.

  43. Turnbaby says:

    {{{{{{{ :hug: }}}}}}}}}

  44. Dutchiestyle says:

    My prayers are with you and your family! :hug:

  45. Mocha says:

    Just keeping you in my thoughts and praying for healing. All I can offer, I guess.

  46. Poppy says:

    Be safe in your travels and if there is anything that we can do for you please just say the word. :hug: :hug: :hug:

  47. I am so, SO sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with you, your family, and all those of your hometown. :hug:

  48. Finn says:

    Glad everyone is OK. My thoughts and prayers and heart and with all of them.

    Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. :hug:

  49. Lynda says:

    No one can replace the memories you have of where you grew up. That will always be there.

    I am glad your family is safe. A big hug to you and them.

  50. Jay says:

    That is just awful! I’m so very sorry Britt. Thank goodness everyone is okay though. I’ll be sending all my good thoughts their way!

  51. J.O. says:

    :hug: I will keep you and your families in my prayers. Be safe on your journey.

  52. Y2K Survivor says:

    I just got on-line and saw there were tornados in Iowa, but AOL never even mentioned it was Brittsville! Fuckers!

    There is nothing that can be said to help the situation. Living my life in Oklahoma and growing up with now you see them now you don’t towns, I know a bit of what you are dealing with. When I moved away my hometown was wiped out by a tornado. It was so close to another, larger town, so it never recoverd a business district. It’s still a nice place with great people but it will never be the community it once was when I was a kid.

    Not very encouraging words in a stressful time. I think I suck at this comforting crap. uh… feel better?

  53. DutchBitch says:

    Awww Hon! I’ve been off line for a few days so I missed all this, but I am SO sorry to hear!!! Take care as I understand from twitter you are heading over there now.

    You are in my thoughts as all of your and Jared’s family and friends!

  54. Sonia says:

    I just posted on this today too. I have family in P-burg and found out everyone is OK though my cousin’s house is completely gone.
    It is incredibly sad but knowing the people of Parkersburg, they will bravely rebuild the town one brick at a time.
    I’ve been lurking (as a fellow Iowa girl) but felt this was a good one to say hello and my thoughts are with your loved ones as well.

  55. Fogspinner says:

    And knowing you what you need right now is to feel busy. And there is so much you can do. So gather the troops baby-girl, there is so much they’re going to need in the coming weeks and months. Cloths, blankets, water, canned goods, gift cards… Start gathering care packages and sending them to your family, what they don’t need they can hand out. There will be disaster relief but it only last so long and is only “so” helpful.

    If you need to- GO HOME. Don’t feel guilty, make yourself as useful as you can from 1400 miles away, or go home and hug and hold their hands if you need to. Maybe they need you too. :heartbeat:

  56. I’m so sorry Britt! I went through something similar last year when my Mom’s home town (where my Aunts, Uncles & cousins still live) got torn apart by a tornado.
    The feeling of loss and helplessness is indescribable.
    I’m sending thoughts and prayers to you, Jared and family… :hug:

  57. Tracy says:

    Oh Britt, I’m so sorry for your family and friends. I will keep everyone in my thoughts girl.

    I agree with Fogspinner, if you feel you need to go home, then go. Do what you can to help out.

    *HUGS*

  58. Lisa says:

    Britt, I was so sorry to hear this last night on Twitter and I can’t imagine how you and your family must be feeling right now. I’m so sad for you. You guys are in my thoughts and prayers.

  59. AmyD says:

    Thinking of you guys. :heartbeat:

    Mike and I have kept an eye out this weekend as well, we’ve had very VERY strange weather and funnel clouds have been spotted nearby.

    We’re supposed to have earthquakes… not tornadoes.

  60. andi says:

    Oh, Britt. I’m so sorry and relieved you’re all safe.

  61. Dragon says:

    You and your family are in my thoughts. :hug:

  62. Annette says:

    Britt: I have felt the way you do and had such a feeling of loss of control….pictures and mementos are nothing…your family there is safe and thats what matters. My prayers and thought are with you and yours…

  63. ADW says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you right now. I am so very sorry for your families and community.

  64. misi says:

    I will be praying for ALL of you. That thru the dark you will see the Light…. In times of loss and pain like this there are no words to say that will make you feel better. Oh how I wish there were…
    Like a magical place where I say” Every thing’s OK guys” and then POOF!! It’s over, thats my safe place, I will be pray you find yours…

  65. lizriz says:

    So sorry to here about your town, but glad everyone’s OK.

  66. Hurricanes have taught us here, in Florida, that family heirlooms are hard to lose. Families themeselves are the important thing. Cling to your loved ones. Utter words of love to them, then let us know what we can do to help. I’ll be happy to donate through PayPal. Money can’t buy love, but it can sure warm tummies and bodies when all is lost. I’ll be praying for your family and your town.

  67. Colin Brooks says:

    I hope you have a safe trip there. You are doing a wonderful thing.

  68. Winter says:

    I didn’t have Twitter on and I’m reading this from my office where the WWII airplanes are doing a flyover for our Memorial Day event. Having been through earthquakes and being separated from family during those times, I understand how gut wrenching this can be. My heart goes out to you. :hug:

  69. Summer says:

    My thoughts and prayers to you, Jared, your families and townspeople. I’m sure it’s a horrible feeling not being able to be there and see that they’re ok. Mother Nature can be so cruel sometimes. :heartbeat:

  70. GOD, Britt. I am so, so, so sorry.

    We hunkered down last night, made all those same sorts of phone calls, but all of our news was good. We weren’t hit here, just crazy severe thunderstorms all night and constant checks on our loved ones in the tornado zone. It’s so shocking how quickly everything changes. How powerless we all are.

    I am thinking of you and thinking of you and thinking of you and thinking of you and thinking of you.

    Tell us how we can help your hometown, if you find a way. I have a feeling you will.

  71. catnip says:

    I’m so sorry. I thought about you and your family all evening after I saw your twitters. My best to you all.

  72. Erika Jurney says:

    I am so very sorry.

  73. Rachel says:

    Everyone is in my thoughts and prayers. :hug:

  74. Rayne says:

    i’m so very sorry – you and jared and your families are in my thoughts…

  75. Shelli says:

    Dear God, Britt. I’m so sorry. It hit our area, too, but not as bad. Just north of us they got it bad, though, including loss of life. I’m so sorry. I will hold your family in my thoughts and prayers. ((((((Britt))))))

  76. HoosierGirl says:

    Good luck, Britt. Hope your travel is easy. Let us know what we can do.

    J.

  77. SwanShadow says:

    That is, as we say in poker, a bad beat.

    Much love to the people of your community, and best wishes for the long, painful recovery to come.

  78. I am so very sorry. My thoughts are with you and yours.

  79. Mindy says:

    And here I mope around because a tree in my backyard took out our electricity. This really puts things in perspective for me. I am so sorry for what your family had to endure. At least you have eachother and God protected them. :hug:

  80. Mary says:

    Please be safe on your journey

  81. I am so sorry to hear that it was your hometown that was hit (my son lives in a little town outside Cedar Rapids called Shellsburg). I’ve been in Florida 14 years, but the little town my husband & I grew up in will always be ‘home.’ It never goes away. And although we Floridians are the envy of many, it’s just not the same…..

    Hope filled thoughts and much love to your family.

  82. Jennifer A says:

    I am glad to hear your love ones are safe, many prayers for the people of the community and your family.

  83. Kailey says:

    :hug:

  84. DCup says:

    My thoughts are with your loved ones.

  85. sandra says:

    God, I’m sorry; that’s incredibly hard. And I can relate — I was overseas when 9/11 happened and all I wanted to do was be at home, hugging the people I loved and helping them through it.

  86. Iron Fist says:

    Jeez, I’m sorry. I’m glad your family is unhurt, but this is still terrible terrible news.

  87. Foo says:

    Hugs and prayers being sent to you, your husband and all of your family and friends who suffered such major losses. My heart goes out to everyone.

  88. Summer says:

    Britt, I just saw your hometown on my local evening news. OMG, the devistation. Is your mom okay? Maybe you can raise some money for the town. Oh and I think I fixed my URL.

  89. Shelli says:

    I keep coming here and re-reading this, hoping that I have read it wrong. Every time I do, I get goosebumps. I’m thinking about you, friend. My heart goes out to you and Jared.

  90. Kelley says:

    I am one of those annoying people that lurk in the shadows of my feedreader, not really contributing, mainly because I could never compete with your amazing commentors…

    But today I have popped out my head to give you a virtual hug. But not in a creepy stalker like way. Just feeling your pain in your words and wanting to just say something, anything to ease your pain.

  91. I hardly know what to say. Prayers for all.

  92. metalmom says:

    Oh,Britt! I’m so sorry,baby! My thoughts and prayers are with you, Jared and your families.

  93. suze says:

    My thoughts are with you and your family. Big hugs in this difficult time.

  94. green3 says:

    I’m in Iowa and I’ve been hearing about the devastation. Glad to hear you are on your way back home. Take care.

  95. Oh Britt! I am so sorry. Please stay safe while there. I’ll be thinking about you and your family.

  96. Christine says:

    I’ve seen you around the blogosphere for ages, and today popped over to “meet” you.

    I’m so sorry to hear that this devastation has touched you…you’ll be in my thoughts.

  97. Willie G says:

    Wanting all the best for you and your family. Peace to you all. :peace:

  98. Kim says:

    Britt and family, I am so sorry. My parents lost their home in 2004 in an Alabama F3 and I went through Katrina. It is heartbreaking.

    Take comfort in having everyone you love still in your life, houses and some possessions can be replaced, though life will never be the same.

    I am sorry after all of the drama of last week that you have to go through this now.

  99. x’s n o’s and lots of prayers are going out to you, Jared, the kids and your families.

    Post if there is anything we can do.

  100. Meg says:

    Wow… keep us posted and we’ll keep all y’all in our prayers.

  101. deb says:

    So sorry to here this my dear. Let me know if I can help in any way. My prayers are with you.

  102. Kimberly says:

    Britt
    You made a great choice by going home. Just you being there will make a difference. I am in Wisconsin if you need anything. That sounds lame coming from someone you don’t even know, but what you are going through completely sucks…and I don’t care if I sound like a dumbass!!

  103. kapgar says:

    Holy Jesus. I’m so sorry. I really don’t know what else to say other than that. I hope you’re able to help and that your town gets back on its feet again.

  104. Robina says:

    I can’t imagine what all those people are going through. It’s so very sad, and I feel so very helpless. I wish there were something I could do to help. I wish I could hug everyone there and let them know that people care.

  105. [...] my form of "prayer", but today I'm just … really in need of mentioning. Her in-laws lost everything in the Parkersburg, Iowa F-4 tornado on Sunday. Britt and her husband Jared drove with their two kids from FL to their hometown in IA to help [...]

  106. John says:

    Britt,

    I’m so sorry this response is so late, as I am terrible about keeping up with the news on a daily basis, but I too offer my thoughts and prayers for your friends and neighbors, and your town. I hope the healing has begun.

  107. MB says:

    It is scary how quickly your life can change when something like this happens.

    You, your family, friends and your hometown are in my prayers.

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