At our church, we pull out all the stops for our Vacation Bible School. It is not unusual for us to have 150 or more little kids running around squealing and having a good time. Last Friday, though, the squealing turned into terrified screaming.
On the Friday of VBS we traditionally hire a company to put up a parking lot full of inflatables. We rent a sno-cone machine, and grill about 300 hotdogs and make vats of baked beans and it is all free to the children and their parents. One of the prettiest sights in the world is watching these little kids skipping around, giggling, having fun, just playing themselves silly, while the adults stand around, watching out for them, while they congratulate themselves on having survived another year of VBS:-)
The wind came out of nowhere. Apart from an overcast sky, there was no warning. None. In a matter of seconds…not minutes…seconds….hurricane force winds swooshed down and literally almost blew some of the children away. The wind picked up a 1400 lb. inflatable and carried it several feet along the parking lot–even though it had not yet been inflated. Peat moss from the playground swirled around in everyone’s faces, dust, gravel. Our two back metal doors were swinging back and forth, being slammed by the wind. My brother-in-law, a heavy equipment operator in his late 70’s saw the danger, happened to be near the doors, saw that the children could potentially be crushed by them, and braced himself in the middle of the doors, holding them open and stationary while children ran beneath his arms. He says he still can’t get the sound of screaming children out of his mind. It was truly terrifying.
A huge tent we’d rented was ripped out of the ground and when this thing the weatherman called a Derecho wind was over, we discovered the tent was slung up over the church roof. A barn next door had a portion of its metal roof ripped off.
Back home at our house, we had electric lines lying all over the place like spaghetti. Trees had been blown over. The electricity was off at our house for 5 days, and the width and breadth of the damage so great, electrical crews came from as far away as Texas to help the local electric company put things right again. The team that fixed the electricity on our back road was from Missouri. I was so happy to see those men show up, I had to hold myself back from running out and hugging them.I would have baked cookies—but, oh yeah, we had no electricity.
But no one was hurt. Barn roofs can be fixed. Inflatables and tents replaced. The loss of 300 hotdogs is one we can absorb. I was able to meet my tight writing deadline by plugging my computer into my car’s battery. The bottom line is that no child was hurt. Every last one got in the building safely.But really, I never dreamed I’d see hurricane force winds in Ohio!