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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Friend Survives Eye of Recent Tornado

A few weeks ago we were sharing concerns about the devastating cyclone that hit Myanmar (Burma). It’s ironic that here in the states the term cyclone is rarely used in a meteorological sense. We say “hurricane” for Atlantic-based cyclones and “tornado” or “twister” for the land-based cyclones typical of the Midwest. In the eighteen years that I lived in Iowa, the only time I heard the word cyclone was in reference to the mascot name of the Iowa State University “Cyclones.”

Last Sunday, however, northwest Iowa was hit with a twister of cyclone proportions. Worst hit was the town of Parkersburg, which was just a short drive from our home in Waterloo. Back in the Nineties I spent a few Saturday shooting weddings in this little town of less than 2,000 people. Judging by the footage in these clips, there is a good possibility the churches I worked in are no longer there.

But the clip I want to share is this story about a former co-worker, Carman Wipf, whose house disappeared before her eyes and she lived to tell about it. [It's save to download required player for this clip.]
In case, you cannot view the video, my friend went home to put down her pop-up trailer (having heard about the potential storm). When she and her friend and children arrive, a tornado sends them to the basement, but before they reach the cubby hole under the stairway, the house is lifted away like the lid of a cookie jar and they nearly go with it... then suddenly all is momentarily calm... in the eye.
Hearing them tell it is worth the time at the link.
Carman was one of those rare students who endures high school, goes to college, makes life-changing decisions, earns a teaching degree, and returns to her alma mater to teach among some who had her as a student. That takes courage. She was my daughter’s volleyball coach (and led the team to three consecutive undefeated seasons).

When I accepted my current position in Michigan, it happened to be Carmen who was the first teacher I told about the bitter-sweet move for our family. In our last year there in Iowa, Carmen and her husband built a new home in New Hartford. It’s that home that is seen (or should I say no longer seen since only the basement survived?) in the interview at this link. My former school is in the background of the interview of Carmen and her friend. Her ability to tell of this life-and-death story in such a calm matter-of-fact manner is typical of the teacher I first met some twenty-five years ago.
We will be in Waterloo, Iowa (just southeast of this storm site), next weekend for a wedding. We'll see Carmen there and ask the question I know you're all wondering: You found most of your house nearby, but did you ever find your pop-up trailer?
Here are some other related pictures of this tornado and video of the destruction.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The term of "it's a small world" sort of resonates here for me! I've never had an Iowa address (though I lived just over the border for about 2 years back when I was a very young-married). My mailbox though, was in town..in Minnesota. But I digress! The week before the tornado my husband and I drove across Iowa (twice) as we attended a wedding in the western part of the state. He says we passed Parkersburg...I don't remember! I do remember Waterloo (and we've known people who live there!!!)
We got home, the tornado happened and a friend at our church e-mailed me to ask for prayer as they used to live in Parkersburg. Know many of the people AND their former house was destroyed. She also taught school there..English I think! So that thing about 6 degrees of separation might have something to it.
Tornados are awful! Our town got hit with a bad one (actually on the edge of our town) three years ago in August. My hometown got hit with one back when I was expecting my first. I would say pictures and videos don't do justice to what it looks like in reality. I know people who have been affected and it's devistating...even for those who are believers!! PTL that your friend lived through the one that took her home!

31/5/08 9:45 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

In writing this, I read that the U.S. is on track to set a tornado record this year.

As I was listening to some of those Iowans in the related video's and watching the Parkersburg football team dig graves for the seven who died, I must admit that I was reminded that while Iowa and Michigan are both considered Midwest states, there is something uniquely admirable about Iowans, Minnisotans, and the people of Wisconsin (What do they call people from Wisconsin? We're called Michiganders or Michiganians.)

1/6/08 12:00 AM  
Blogger the walking man said...

Officially, by legislative decree many years ago, it is Michiganders.

Now after watching a couple of the news stories from Iowa...that was a huge blow out. And the calm resolve of the people in the footage was a good thing to see Tom.

You are right, those people are not Michiganders. We would try to kill the wind and eat it. *Shrug* each has their own way. I am glad that your friend and her friend and kids though made it through that blow.

In a couple of years the kids will always look back at that as one of those calender events..."before the tornado it was thus...Oh that happened after the tornado."

I remember watching the wind that took down half of Hamtramk about 12 years ago or so. It passed about a hundred feet from the garage I was working in. Awesome.


1/6/08 4:31 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

You're right. In one of the other news clips a young man said this town was where I learned everything I know. What a clean-up project. I may see how close I can get to it next weekend to see how they're coming along.

I always say Michiganders--Michiganian sounded so "upity." But I'm not sure I've ever heard a nickname (besides cheesehead) for our friends in Wisconsin.

1/6/08 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think in Wisconsin...we're called "Wisconsinites". Some would say "Cheese-heads" but somehow I feel that a bit offensive, because that being said brings to mind the people who wear those silly (cheesey..pun intended) cheese-hats!

I pray there won't be MORE devistation of storms......!!!!!
I too have read the same thing about this being a season of many, heavy ones. "They're" also gearing up for the hurricanes as well.

1/6/08 10:55 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

My Dear Wisconsin Sandwich Lady,
I would never call you a cheesehead. =)

Though I still laugh at how you came up with the name for which we call you WSL here in the blogosphere.

1/6/08 12:13 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I guess I missed the story about your years in Iowa... I thought I had read all of your archives! You are a very interesting man indeed.

Your friend was very articulate with such a vivid description but I was delighted when they both gave all the glory to God for saving them. They will never know the impact that may have on the lives of others. God is good!

I know you are busy with the end of the year activities but I'm glad you took the time to post this. Absolutely amazing!

1/6/08 1:37 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

PS Call me a North Carolinian or simply a "Carolina Girl"!

Do ask about that pop-up when you go. I was looking all around for it during the view of that area.

1/6/08 4:38 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Nancy in Carolina,
Wasn't that something. It happened a week ago tonight (I'm now writing on Sunday). Then we heard about it on Monday, but I didn't seen the video until Thursday.

Yes, the first "half" of my educational career was there in Waterloo in the brick building behind the two ladies telling this story. Great years there. Iowa is a wonderful place. All our girls were born there.
Here's a link to one post I recall:

1/6/08 6:08 PM  
Blogger Cris said...

WOW! What an amazing story!

2/6/08 10:04 AM  
Blogger Dr.John said...

That is an amazing story. Be glad she wasn't in the trailer.

2/6/08 4:57 PM  
Blogger Donnetta Lee said...

We certainly know about tornadoes here in Oklahoma! My mom lost her house years ago and had to move into my grandmother's home. About a week after the move, another tornado hit the garage at my grandmother's but didn't bother the house, luckily. House is still standing. Oh, and the first house that got hit--mother was in it at the time! Hiding in a closet. Bless her heart.

2/6/08 7:44 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

We've had some pretty good storms here in Michigan but nothing like what's happening in the prairie states.

2/6/08 9:43 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Dr. John,
Our trailer is set up out back tonight. My daughter and her friend are "camping out" but no storm is expected.

Donnetta Lee,
I'm wondering if you got any of that storm today that hit north of you in Kansas. My wife's parents called this afternoon. They had ice balls--not hail stones--the siz of soft balls. When the storm was over the windows on the north side of thier house were broken out. They also have some roof damage. They've had this happen before, but then thanks to "The Wizard of Oz" Kansas may be even more famous for tornados and hail storms than Oklahoma.
Keep an eye on the sky!

2/6/08 9:49 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Very sad - all of this severe weather lately. I had to laugh when I first read your post because we just had this exact conversation at my work recently, wondering about the different definitions of a cyclone/hurricane/tornado. Then not long after that, the Windsor, CO tornado hit (not far from us). Thankfully, we were at Disneyland getting rained on at the time (and we thought we had it bad!)

3/6/08 9:52 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Julie in CO,
So you were in a typhoon, eh? Just kidding--I think that refers to a bad storm at sea. Here in west Michigan we get another type of front called "windshears" that can knock over huge trees and buildings without the cyclone effect. We had one in our neighborhood ten years ago.

Speaking of high winds, by the looks of the news tonight, you will be having long-winded storm in Dever this August. Obama is officially the Democratic nominee and he has been speaking for over a half hour so far.

3/6/08 9:52 PM  

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