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Monday, August 10, 2020. Derecho. I had never heard of the word before. I was just about to go to the grocery store when my wife turned on the noon news and we heard the weather gang talking about an oncoming storm of straight-line winds that might exceed 100 miles per hour. A derecho. It was headed for our town in less than twenty minutes. We would need to take cover in the basement by then.

When we emerged after a frightening forty minutes of listening to the wind thrashing, to the earth-shaking thud of falling trees, and to a real gusher of a downpour, we found our world had altered immeasurably. It seemed as if every tree in sight had been felled or broken in two. One tree was leaning against the front of our house, another lie across the back patio, having smashed everything that was once there.

In the end, the winds reached 140 mph at times. We lost all five of the large, old trees in our yard-an elm, a basswood, a locust, an ash, and a beautiful river birch. We were without electricity for eight and a half days, although we bought a generator to see us through. And we are still without local phone or Internet service twelve days later. I’m working off my iPad, which is tethered to my iPhone’s phone service at the moment. On the plus side, I passed my chainsaw merit badge.

All of this is to explain why I have been silent for so long. But now I am working on some new posts for Vertigo which should start going up before too long.



8 Comments Post a comment
  1. cw #

    Sorry to hear of the devastation. Stay well, and let us know if we can help.

    August 22, 2020
    • Thanks! We’ve got most of the trees cut down and cleared out to the curb. I feel terrible for the many people who lost more than we did. But everyone seems to be helping out their neighbors.

      August 22, 2020
  2. Extraordinary. I had not heard the word before either. Glad to know those in your house are safe.

    August 22, 2020
  3. Sounds terrifying. Glad you are all OK, and that the community is coming together to rebuild and support.

    August 23, 2020
  4. Janne Weinzierl #

    Dear Terry,
    remembering W.G.Sebald on the devastating storm across the south of England and his gloomy outlook then, he never lived to see the positive outcome of nature revitalizing itself in the following years. I do hope the destruction of trees around your house will not depress you and looking forward to new posts by you and all the best from Munich
    yours Janne W.

    August 23, 2020
    • I definitely thought about Sebald and The Natural History of Destruction numerous times over the past two weeks. And I have seen climate change at work where I live, as our storms increase in their intensity, our annual temperatures rise, our seasons shift. We will look to the future and we will plant shorter trees.

      August 23, 2020
  5. aileverte #

    I’m sorry you had to live through this experience — and relieved to hear you emerged unharmed. Seeing all the beloved trees felled and splintered must be heartbreaking.

    It’s odd to think that the force of this wind could be also translated, if I’m not mistaken, as the force of law… We live at a time when it is the law that has become criminal (police, president etc.) and those who oppose it (“anarchy”, “disorder”) represent reason and humanity. It is somehow a sign of the times that a destructive wind laying to waste human livelihoods goes by the name of law…


    August 25, 2020
    • Apparently the intended translation of “derecho” is “straight,” as in straight winds rather than the curved wind of a tornado or hurricane. But I like your version, which is so apt. We’re fine. Waiting for insurance adjuster, looking to the future. Still depressed about COVID and not being able to travel to see children and granddaughter so far away on west coast. Thanks for checking in. Any news in your world?

      August 26, 2020

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