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  • Writer's pictureAmy Pagano

The Tornado: Literally and Figuratively

Updated: Aug 23, 2020

I take back everything I wrote in the last post about smooth sailing. Everything.

Where do I Even Begin...

We anticipated moving from our friend's, Matt and Mallory's, place by the first week in June. When our contractor first called to let us know he was behind, Matt and Mal said we could stay as long as we needed (thanks guys!) To be honest, I think we all enjoyed the extra company since majority of our time living together was during the stay-at-home orders. Built in friends during a quarantine is the way to do it. Cheers to the nights of Euchre at the dining room table. If you've never heard of Euchre, neither had we. It's this crazy card game popular in Michigan that we learned to love...and team Amy and Mal won the tournament. Boom. Once things settle down, the boys owe us a steak dinner.

The downfall of June 2020 started when our contractor was asking for even more time than he had originally planned. He was a little short staffed because of the pandemic and they were having an unforeseen issue with their cabinet paint and he was dealing with his paint vendor to get it resolved. I appreciated that he offered us some incentives to give him an extra week and what's one more week...or so we thought. Since Matt and Mal are so awesome, they said no problem when we asked to stay a little longer.

What we didn't anticipate was that our fluffy accommodations at Matt and Mallory's house would be abruptly cut short.

The Literal Tornado

On Saturday June 6th we had a small get together to say farewell to our friends who were moving to Oklahoma. The stay-at-home orders were lifted, and it seemed like a small going away party with our close friend group was okay and a much needed break from all of the isolation. Matt and Mal have a nice big yard and we could spend the day outside at the pool. Unfortunately for us, mother nature decided otherwise. It rained for most of the afternoon so we were all stuck inside but still managing to have a good time. They live on a narrow quiet street but they have a huge driveway so 12 cars were able to park in their driveway pretty comfortably, including mine and Brenton's.

It was almost exactly 7:23 PM and I was about 20 pizza rolls deep when things got WILD. I wish I was talking about the party goers. I think I was the first person to point out that the wind outside had picked up. Just moments before, I was standing on the front porch with Mallory as she prepared to run a quick errand and we noticed how it wasn't even raining let alone windy. In Florida we get freak rain storms almost every day in the summer so the sudden change in weather wasn't that unusual however the wind seemed particularly intense. I pulled open the blinds and a handful of us looked outside. Within a few seconds the power went out. Being someone who is afraid of storms, I expected that thunder and lighting were not far behind and I left the kitchen to go into the sunroom to find Brenton. Within a few seconds of that, literally seconds, everyone in the house was suddenly aware that this wasn't an ordinary summer storm and we could hear the wind pick up and debris flying around. Before we even had time to think, windows in the kitchen started to burst and Brenton pulled us down onto the floor and under a small cutout in the wall of the sunroom. Simultaneously we hear pounding at the back door and I realize that three of our friends were OUTSIDE and couldn't get in- we later found out this was due to the pressure from the wind not because the door was locked. Fortunately one of the girls was able to let them in and as soon as they came flooding inside it ended. It was over. It was eerily still.

One of the guys was the first to shout out that it was over and he went outside. It wasn't until then that I started to ask myself- was that a tornado? The entire thing lasted less than 40 seconds and I am not exaggerating. Everyone ran outside and started checking on each other. Within a few minutes we were able to account for everyone, including Mallory and Alli who had just left in a car and barely made it down the street, and three dogs. We (as in the boys) had to carry the three dogs everywhere because glass littered the house and yard. And by dogs I mean a German shepherd, golden retriever mix and lab mix. Not small dogs. Glass covered the kitchen, dining room and living room floors, counters, and furniture. Two of the four bedrooms had windows burst and nine of the twelve cars parked in the driveway had sever damage to the point of being totaled or close to it. Most of us were okay and all of us were alive, more importantly. Our friend who is moving to Oklahoma (ironically) had the worst injury and needed surgery on her foot due to a cut tendon from the glass. Some kind neighbors on a golf cart got her to the nearest accessible road where her and her husband literally hitch hiked to the hospital. There were so many tree and power lines down it made it difficult to get out. Quite a few others had cuts from the glass but nothing more serious than the foot injury. By some miracle, the three guys who were outside made it in without a scratch. We had to hide out at the house until about 10 PM since there were more Tornado warnings. Driving was impossible since the cars we could see where smashed in addition to power lines down everywhere and trees were blocking us all in. While waiting for a safe time to flee to another friend's house, we started to see water leaking inside the house from damage to the roof. Not to mention it's Florida in June so the house was HOT and HUMID from all of the broken windows. Like the Titanic, the boys arranged to get the women and children (dogs) out first once it was safe to leave and fortunately, unlike the titanic, none of the boys got left behind on a piece of debris.

The National Weather Service did indeed confirm an EF-1 Tornado hit us. I had to google's the second LEAST intense tornado on the Fujita Scale so for Floridians it was probably like a category 1 or 2 hurricane, which isn't that big of a deal. It reminded me of how hurricane Sandy shook NJ even though it wasn't even actually a hurricane (it was a tropical storm by the time it hit NJ) but NJ isn't built for a storm like that. Similarly, we live in Orlando, Florida- Micky Mouse's home, we are not supposed to get tornadoes nor are we prepared for them. The Tornado warning literally showed up on our phones after it passed through. We did not hear that notorious "freight train" noise, presumably because it came off the lake (about six minutes and 30 seconds in you'll see what I mean - videos here). There are not basements in Florida homes so no, we did not go in the basement because there wasn't one. And No, we did not get any kind of alarm warning so we didn't even have time to get in a bathroom. Mother nature, for future reference I am a blizzard and hurricane kind of girl and would prefer other natural disasters to keep to themselves. Please and thank you.

We are very grateful for the personal safety of everyone who was affected, including some of the neighbors who sustained similar damage. Neighbors in one direction had their entire roof blow off and neighbors in the other direction looked like they just won yard of the month. Crazy how picky tornadoes can be. That being said, the house was the real casualty. Yes belongings can be replaced but think about your home being destroyed in less than 40 seconds- it's a lot to take in. Poor Matt and Mal's home was more or less totaled and all four of us had to move out the next day. We were ignorantly optimistic the following morning, thinking we'd be sweeping up glass and boarding up windows and be staying there that night! Thinking that worst case, we'd be uncomfortable with the lack of AC for a few days. Wow were we so wrong.

Brenton and I were very lucky that our stuff was hardly touched since our bedroom windows held up. Matt and Mal lost nearly all of their brand new furniture to water and glass damage. To date, about three weeks after the tornado, their home is being ripped down to the studs. And to think that very morning I was helping Mallory inspect a spot in the rug...little did we know there were about to be a lot of spots in all the rugs. The silver lining is that they will get a remodel earlier than planned although I'm sure they'd tell you that the stress and headache of being displaced from their home of less than a year and having to toss out most of their belongings including the brand new white couch (which Mallory spent weeks researching) are not worth the early remodel. Their home was built in 1920 and had beautiful wood flooring that is now being torn up as well. Did I mention they're also in the middle of planning for their wedding in 3 months? and then there is the whole Coronavirus thing. Brenton and I wish we could return the favor and have them stay with us however our place is still weeks away from being complete. Oy vey. I right?!

If you want to check out an article from the local news, have at it.

The Figurative Tornado - Back to that condo renovation

Now Brenton and I are on a new level of homeless. It's June 23rd and we have slept at five different locations this month. HUGE THANK YOU to our awesome Orlando friends for taking us in and for the countless offers from others.

In an effort to keep this blog post from turning into a book I am going to list the sequence of events that took place after the Tornado...I can't make this stuff up.

  • Stayed two nights with Alli and Jon (thanks guys!)

  • Spent four days moving our stuff out of the house and assisting Matt and Mal with getting out what they could salvage (luckily my car was in decent shape although Brenton's was totaled. Most of the couples were now working off of one car)

  • Stayed nine nights with Spenser and Ashley (thanks guys!)

  • In that time, Brenton needed a new car since his was totaled in the tornado

  • Got Brenton a truck so that was cool

  • We were supposed to get carpet in the condo and start sleeping there the week after the tornado

  • The kitchen got delayed again, hence pushing back carpet, hence we couldn't move in

  • The refrigerator was supposed to be delivered so I needed to go to the Condo

  • My car won't start

  • I had to call AAA

  • I needed a tow, now we are back to only having one car and Brenton was at work and I needed to meet the refrigerator delivery man

  • I drove Ashley's brand NEW car to the condo. I should mention the last time I drove Ashley's car I parked it in a spot which enabled it to get totaled in a tornado... she's a good friend for trusting me with her car again.

  • I Prayed that I wouldn't crash it for the entire 7 minute drive

  • I met the delivery man, he says we need to reschedule since the kitchen isn't finished - awesome

  • We stayed two more nights with Spenser and Ashley (thanks guys!)

  • We decided to get the carpet installed despite the kitchen not being complete so we can at least move our stuff in

  • We stayed two nights with Tyler and Kaitlin (thanks guys!)

  • Our storage POD got delivered and is ready to be unloaded once the carpet goes in the next day

  • Carpet installers showed up

  • Carpet installers tell us that there are 3 major seams in the carpet and need us to sign off on that

  • "WHAT?"

  • "Yes, the sales team should have already gone over this with you"


  • "Well, the seams are here, here and here"

  • "In the middle of the room?"

  • "Yes"

  • "Will they be visible?"

  • "Because of the type of carpet you selected, yes"

  • "This would have been great to know when we made the selection..."

  • "Yeah, I agree"

  • We go back and forth with Home Depot and the Installers (who were outsourced by Home Depot, and are awesome for telling us about the seams that we would have never known about)

  • Home Depot says we can either move forward under the agreement that there will be visible seams (why would we do that?) or cancel the install and select a new carpet that will hide the seams better and schedule a new date which will take about two weeks.

  • We cancel and go to Home Depot and select a new carpet. We try to move the seams around but they tell us there is no other way and no larger carpet that meets our needs.

  • Toyota calls me, my car needs over $800 of work because an engine switch went out. It's not related to the Tornado so it's not covered by insurance and will be in the shop for at least five days.

  • We decide we are going to start sleeping at our place regardless that it's unfinished

  • The guest room's old carpet stayed clean (the rest of the carpet is covered in dust, and small debris and screws and nails from the kitchen and bathroom renovations)

  • We set up a mattress, TV and some suitcases and are now living out of the condo waiting for the rest of the renovation to be complete and for the carpet to be ready.

  • Knock on wood, the bathrooms have been working great!

  • Our storage POD is sitting in the driveway and we are praying the HOA doesn't come knocking on the door about that...

  • In the past two days of camping at the condo we have been able to install some of the new light switches and unpack our bathroom belongings which is nice

  • Somewhere in there we did get an oven and dishwasher delivery and a possible exposure to Covid...

And that is where we are at!

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