It’s been two months since a devastating EF3 tornado hit our town, and I finally feel like I’m ready to talk about it. Inexplicably no one killed, but it’s still painful to see your town shredded down to the nubbins. When the Today show talked about our little town, they said it best when they said ‘widespread and catastrophic destruction’.
It was a bright sunny day, and the sirens were going off. This is very common in Iowa. We don’t ignore the sirens, but we definitely don’t drop what we’re doing to take cover. We had neighbor kids over to play that day, and the kids were a little disconcerted. After while, the tornado threat was bumped up from a ‘Watch’ to a ‘Warning’. A Watch means that ‘conditions are favorable’ for tornadoes to form. And a ‘Warning’ means a tornado has actually touched down somewhere in our county or nearby county.
At this point, we retreated to the basement.
The basement at our new house isn’t finished, but at least you don’t have to enter from the outside like you do at our farmhouse. The kids ran around like crazies for what seemed like more than an hour. I was about ready to ‘call it’ and send the kids up, when a very unsettling alarm started coming from my phone. My weather app was alerting me that a tornado was sighted just outside of Marshalltown, and would hit NW Marshalltown in 14 minutes.
Our new house is in NW Marshalltown, so things were getting real. It was still a bright sunny day outside with ZERO WIND. We were so confused! But I started talking to the kids about what we would do if/when the wind started picking up. The utility room in the basement is the only room with no windows, and it was just across the hallway from the big room we were playing in.
During this time, Nick was at work. It was about the time he normally gets off, and he had been texting me that they have him in the basement with all his coworkers. But shortly after I got that ’14 minute warning’, Nick appears down the stairs and announces that we’re in the clear! There’s no longer a threat!
I’m like ARE YOU SURE BECAUSE MY PHONE APP JUST USED THE WORD ‘IMMINENT’.
I put a show on for the kids in the basement, and Nick and I went upstairs to start working on supper. Our makeshift kitchen (dining room) is right at the top of the basement stairs, so we could flee down if need be. Living in Iowa where tornado threats are a dime a dozen, we were only mildly cautious.
I went to the bathroom to fill up a pot of water to make rice on the hot plate, and when I was walking back toward the dining room, I hear Nick say ‘UHHHHH it’s getting super windy… come look at these swirling clouds to the west.’
I came and looked out that dining room window that overlooks the kitchen hole, and what I saw could only be described as the biggest twister in history descending upon our home. There was debris and tree branches flying through the air. It looked like it was about a block away from us.
Nick and I looked at each other and started running down the basement stairs. And as we did, the lights flickered and went out. The kids started screaming, and we herded them into the utility room where we hunkered down and waited.
Being in the basement of a giant brick house, it was surprisingly quiet. There was some light rumbling and the sound of glass breaking, but when we emerged, we weren’t entirely convinced that a tornado had hit us…. until we walked outside.
Our home was in the direct path of the tornado, but we were toward the outer edge of the funnel cloud. The worst damage was about two blocks from us. Our neighborhood only lost large trees and roofing damage for the most part.
There were other neighborhoods that got hit a lot harder than we did. Our town really rallied together to help each other out. Nick spent 3 straight days with his trusty chain saw helping complete strangers clean up the downed trees in their yards.
Our girls and the neighbor kids set up a free Food and Drink Stand for all the workers. It was all their idea, and we were so proud! <3
The majority of the town was without power for weeks. Fortunately, we still had our house in the country (with power). Nick and I have talked for years about how we should get a generator in case of emergency or power outage. Those in our neighborhood that had generators running after the tornado were the envy of all of us that didn’t have one. And our local home improvement store sold out FAST. Ironically, shortly after this event, our friends at Champion Generators reached out to see if we wanted to review this baby. Um yes.
I’m going to let Nick take over and talk about his new favorite thing.
Let’s dive into it shall we!
Little assembly was required. Attaching the wheels, handle, Battery and then add oil. Easy Peasy! I like that this Champion generator has an electric start. With Just the push of a button you’re started and running.
Lastly, we add gas!
Wait, is that a Grill Propane Cylinder? you ask. Heck Yeah it is! This is one of the many features that I like about this generator. The traffic was so bad on T-day that it took us 3 hours to get to the south side of town (typically a 7 min drive) and many of the gas stations in our neighborhood were not open because they themselves had been impacted by the tornado. I would have been nice to just stroll out and fire up a generator off our propane grill. The generator will run 9 1/2 hours on 3 1/2 gals of gas or 10 1/2 hours on a grill propane tank.
Another reason I like this, is if we ever decide to get a camper, we can just run it off the same propane tanks used on the camper. allowing us not to have to tote around an additional gas can!
Note: if you want to shut the generator off while using propane, you need to shut the fuel valve, starving the engine. I thought this was a little odd until i realized that they bypass the carburetor and inject the LP straight into the engine.
This generator boasts a 224cc engine, producing 4750 starting watts and 3800 running watts. This should run both our fridge and our deep freezer, range, and our lights! Now I need to figure out how to wire up some dedicated circuits to run on this generator so that we can have heat if we get caught in an ice storm. Stay Tuned for that!
For now we will run drop cords.
Champion has many different configurations of generators. Jump on over to their page to see what configuration works for you. Here is a link, if you want to purchase this generator.
They also have whole home stand-by generators. I will continue to dream about having one. But for now at least I know my family will be comfortable during a power outage and that we will save hundreds of dollars in groceries that would otherwise spoil.
For more specification on this generator, check it out here.
This post is sponsored by Champion. Thank you for supporting the fabulous brands that make Reality Daydream possible! This post contains affiliate links.
Wow, that had to be such a terrifying experience! We had a tornado go over our house a few years back, causing quite a bit of damage throughout our neighborhood. Thankfully nobody was injured and we had mainly tree damage, shattered windows and lost power for some time. Our family will never forget when the storm hit, all of us huddled in the basement, so sudden and surreal. Love the generator you suggested, especially the fact that it also runs on propane. When trees are down throughout the neighborhood, it can be impossible to go and get gas for sure. So happy you and your family are safe.
So glad no one was seriously hurt!
Norma Rolader says
So thankful ya’ll are alright prayers sent for all in the disaster zone
Márcio de Aguiar Caldas Márcio Caldas says
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I read your story about the tornado and oh my what an awful thing to happen. I am glad your were all safe and suffered little damage. I am in Arkansas and live on the new Madrid earth quake line. I just pray we never have one. This is called the ridge and we have never had a tornado to hit it always goes north of us or south of us, they say it is because of the ridge. But one day that could change. I am south of Jonesboro and they have had their share of tornados too. so glad you all are ok.
Myrtle Marie says
Wow!! That sounds like my worst nightmare. Tornadoes are one of my biggest fears. I’m so glad that you are all ok.
Linda Kernodle says
Glad y’all made it with no lives taken. Here in Alabama we have tornados regularly. The worst outbreak for my area was April 27, 2011. There was a path diagonally across the state and we are right in the center of the state. Thankfully we have lots of hills and the track was on the northwest side of the hill where we live. That outbreak devastated other states, also, with many lives lost. We had friends that lost homes, but not their lives. I am so thankful that there were no lives lost in your recent tornado. Thanks for the Champion generator review. We live in a rural area and sometimes loose power seemingly for no reason. I will keep your family and friends in my prayers.
I had absolutely no idea you are in Marshalltown. I lived in Marshalltown my whole life until my husband was transferred to Montana in 1978. Never experienced a tornado though they seemed to happen all around us. My family still all live there. They all fortunately missed any damage to their homes. It is a wonder that no one was killed. Glad your family is safe.
WOW! So glad that everyone was okay. I am also from Iowa so I could relate to most of your story. The warnings are a dime a dozen in the summer so you never do know. Living not too far from Parkersburg, we also know that they can LEVEL a town in a matter of seconds. Love your blog and glad you are all okay.