Weather events change lives forever. Physically, emotionally and monetarily, scars last for a lifetime.

Someone who has experienced the devastating loss of a home by tornado attack knows all about weather event trauma. Or consider the person whose home is struck by lightning, starts a fire and burns to the ground. Loss from the weather makes us feel out of control. 

The power of nature is truly beyond our control. I have several friends who have been through these types of events. Panic attacks ensue the minute a dark cloud enters our skies.

Over the past couple of decades, the Dallas County Emergency Rescue group has helped countless neighbors, near and far, to recover from life-stripping catastrophic weather events. I thank all the volunteers for their efforts.

This past weekend the storms brought buckets of water in a short period. The ditches were running fast. When I arrived home, debris had clogged my ditches. I had to clear the bridge and whistle to keep my front lawn from turning into Beamer Lake. 

The water’s swift movement brought me back to the muddy, cruddy floods in the early 1990s. We were living in the St. Louis area and had a chance to see both the Missouri and Mississippi rivers crest. The river was mighty and cruel. I witnessed the water break a mature oak tree with a trunk 3 feet in diameter snapping like a toothpick from Cracker Barrel.

The damage to homes and lives was impossible to fathom. I can remember the propane storage facilities’ tanks were in danger because the water had lifted the containers from their resting stands. The threat of explosion was high and would take out several city blocks. The city was on high alert for weeks.

When the floods started, I was volunteering at a church camp south of St. Louis with my children. The camp sat on a tributary of the Mississippi River. The rains had started to the north. Over the week, the river started slowly rising, but we were never in danger. At that time, it was just a life lesson for the children how excess rain makes rivers rise.

The camp director showed us flooding from the past about 4 foot up the walls. We could see the staining. He told us that the church leaders were sending the buses because severe flooding was starting in the city. We needed to hit the road.

Then a few short hours later, I was asked to come and sit in on a conversation with a little boy. My co-volunteer had to explain that when we arrived back at church, he no longer had a home to go back to live. The water had taken his home and was floating it down the Mississippi with some of his family, dead. Social services were meeting him to help him with his new future. This event was one of the most heart-wrenching moments of my life.

We arrived home, and there had been a short reprieve in the weather. I looked back at the swimming pool. I had forgotten to add water before I left. The rains had lifted the levels a few inches. Still, the water was about 10 inches from the top. 

A new storm rolled in, and within an hour and a half, the pool was overflowing. We lived on a cul-de-sac at the bottom of a hill. Water was flowing, crashing, making a wave of water flooding the home at the end of the street.

During the time we were living in Kansas City, I was watching a summer storm out of the kitchen window, washing dishes. The back door was open, and I was enjoying the sound and smells of the summer shower. Suddenly, lightning struck the top of the house behind us, blowing a hole in the roof and engulfing the structure in fire. The hair on my arms, and everywhere else, stood on end — for hours. The static charge in the air was physically restraining.

Weather like hail, wildfires, severe weather, tornadoes and ice storms inflict like a scourge. The event whips through a community to lash with a multi-thong wire-infused weapon of water and wind to inflict severe punishment.

Heed the weather alerts and warnings. 

Sign up for SWIFT. 

Be prepared. 

Stay safe.

Joy Beamer is the general manager of the Buffalo Reflex. She may be reached at joyb@buffaloreflex.com or (417) 345-2224.

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