I lost my home to the 1974 tornado but it gained a new perspective on life

by 24USATVApril 2, 2024, noon 20
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When I was in 8th grade, and my sister Valerie was a junior at Ballard High School. We arrived home about an hour prior to the 1974 tornado hitting our home.

The birds stopped chirping and our family dog uncharacteristically didn't want to go out in the yard. Our dad called home and warned of the news of storm damage in Brandenburg, it was heading our way. We saw a huge oak tree in our yard flapping in the wind like a twig .

With Dick Gilbert on a radio, we hurried to the basement just in time to feel a dramatic change in air pressure followed a loud sound like a freight train and airborne debris smashing into basement windows. The violent shaking of our house made us fear for our lives until suddenly it ended.

Upon reaching the basement stairs we could see the sky and our house no longer existed.

Upon climbing out we heard alarming sounds of gas lines hissing and electric lines popping. Gradually we spotted neighbors, hugged in relief and feared the fate of others. The sights were surreal—imagine London during an air raid.

We met many neighbors gathered at a neighbor's home away from the hardest hit area. Eventually, our parents arrived from their workplaces downtown. Their tears were not for what they lost, but tears of joy for the fact we were alive and unharmed.

That evening our family returned to the obliterated home site and we started retrieving valuables and beginning the process of getting back up after getting knocked down. Later that night, we regrouped in a neighbor's home and while we were fed sandwiches we could hear our dad on the Milton Metz WHAS call-in show. Instead of telling about what was lost, he told the radio audience that at Kentucky Towers, he managed apartments and that any vacancy was available free of charge to those who were suffering.

Even though the tornado was a terrifying experience, it has been an incredible life experience—giving great perspective on what is truly important, and a reminder to use life's experiences to make you stronger.

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