Stupid Stinkin' April

As a kid, I remember summer being all about swimming, sunburns, and sleepovers. Umm, where did that go? This summer has been really fun. Oh yes. And really, it was April that threw a kink in everything. I blame it all on that stupid, stinkin’ April.

 Cue fuzzy flashback sequence here....

Storm Shelter
Early that morning, ole Brad Travis, trusty weather guy, kept saying that it was going to be a rough day, but I’ve never really been fearful of storms, so I ignored him and went on to school like normal. And it was a normal school day – for the first hour. Then we all got to spend a few hours in the halls, socializing with books over our heads, then we moved to the closets and basement, you know - just to take inventory, then back in the halls. Around 1:30, someone had the brilliant idea to dismiss school, so by 2:30 I was back at the Hill Compound with the husb. We tried to hustle together an End of the World Survival Kit, but isn’t it always impossible to find a working flashlight when imperative?

With the tv blaring, we threw some pillows, blankets, and our dogs into the 3’x4’ open area of the laundry room. Then we went back for our phone chargers (because where would one be during a tornado without a phone charger?). Soon the newscasters’ voices disappeared and our house went eerily quiet.

Hmm…We crept out of our safe haven to peer out the windows. Very safe move, then Adam decided to run outside and look at the sky. See picture. Dumb dumb dumb choice Not the wisest moment for my husband, but what he saw sent him running back to the house, and rightfully so.

It caused us to huddle together - Adam, me, Gracie, Buddy (the dogs), and the hefty Whirlpool duo. I remember clinging to Buddy’s neck and Adam’s arm, envisioning an odd combination of the Oz tornado scene and my Merrell clad feet sticking out of a raging twister. While the walls shook, my ears popped, and sounds similar to that of a monster ripping off huge chunks of our house (which, in fact, is somewhat accurate), we were cowering from a massive F5 tornado. What was our choice of defense? Pillows. Yes, the same ones we’ve whopped one another upside the head with. Stuffing and fabric- the ultimate defense against a 250 mph whirling vortex and deadly debris. Pillows. Well, I shouldn’t leave out the blankets.

We had no power. We had no weather radio. We couldn’t call out. We had no idea what was going on.  After a bit, we decided that it had gotten quite stifling in our luxurious storm shelter, so we opened the door. I fully expected to see the exposed sky, but things looked normal. We made a beeline for the front door, saw our neighbors, and also saw that things were a far cry from normal.  

What we found, and didn’t find, left me speechless: Busted windows. Glass everywhere. Water inside my house. Wood impaled into the solid ground. A missing grill (but the grill racks were conveniently left near the fence – so thoughtful of Mr. Tornado).  Children’s toys. Siding, fascia, and insulation missing, but all over the ground. And our lawnmower casually rolled out into the middle of the back yard. Talk about an odd and eerie feeling.

That's not what my bike looked like before the tornado...
Yeah, the reality of adulthood and homeownership came just like that.
A nice whollop that definitely left a mark.

We rummaged around the house and finally found our insurance policy (why yes, it was in a designated safe spot – haphazardly placed in an undistinguishable pile of papers in an unlocked fire safe box under the guest bed behind the baskets of laundry –I knew exactly where it was. Cough. Cough.), but who really reads those things, anyways?

Whaaaaat? “/

Yes, the welcome mat to homeownership was a soggy, soggy one on that April 27th. Good thing I wore my Merrells. Waterproof, baby.

We stayed at our house that night, but we slept in an unscathed guest room since we didn’t feel like simulating a camping trip in our bedroom- what with it being less one window and exposed to the elements. Plus our linins were soggy and covered in glass. Again, dumb dumb dumb. I had about fifty-two heart attacks that night; dangling siding and fascia, no hum of electricity, and high winds make for no beauty rest.

The next day, we were able to acquire a nice, rat-shack hotel room and a hot breakfast at the Burger King, but only after waiting in line for about an hour and a half. Yeah, the entire populace of North Alabama came to Athens that day.

It was on that day that the real joy of being a homeowner commenced. We had no idea how to file an insurance claim and get our house fixed, so we listened to our neighbors:
-State Auto? I’ve never heard of your insurance company. "/
-An inspector will come out.
-He will try to screw you and tell you stuff doesn’t need to be fixed.
-They will not give you enough money to cover the damages. You’ll have to fight them.
-They won’t cover an entire roof replacement.
-Take pictures of everything, even your spoiling food.

Oh. Em. Gee.

Eight days after the storms, our insurance inspector finally made it out to our house. Eight days of fingernail chewing, pacing, and hotel staying. I was more nervous about meeting this guy than I was about getting married. All I could do was smile and nod as he spoke to us, seemingly in another language – talking about soffit and shoe moulding, eves and elevations. Smile. Nod. Smile. Nod.

He spent three hours looking over our very humble abode, poking and prodding her, taking picture after picture, and scribbling things on his notepad.  She felt so violated. As it turned out, he was pretty decent; he walked us through what needed to be done and what he was allotting the money for.

And theeeeeen we learned about dealing with the mortgage company, gained a better understanding of a deductable (ouch), and working with a contractor.

MONEY!'s not ours!
Fuzzy sequence back to present time... 

Three months and $30,000 later, we’ve recovered from our plastic surgery. New fence, gutters, paint, bed, flooring, carpet, the whole nine yards. I can once again use my back door, and for the first time since April 27th, we actually have a normal master bedroom again with furniture and a window. Talk about exciting.

Instead of working on my tan and reading books, I’ve had to negotiate prices, deal with dry wall dust, and clean icky boot prints off of my floor daily. I mean, were these contractor people raised in a barn? I won’t even mention how many times I’ve had to shut the door behind them. But despite the inconvenience of it all, I’m just thankful that we actually had a house to fix.

And so now, three long months after stinkin’ April 27th, we just have to pay for it… whomp womp. 



  1. Can I just say AMEN!? I just got finished telling my mom that I wish life could stop being so difficult and just be carefree for a few months. Then I read this and realized other people do know exactly where I'm coming from. Yay for your house being back to normal! It's good to see that there's a light at the end of this tunnel :) Here's to a better fall and an even better next summer - Beth


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