November 10th

Happy Saturday:

I hope that everyone is have a day to enjoy their family. For those of you that have to work I hope your day is pleasant.

The sun is shining today and the wind is blowing. It is slightly warmer than yesterday and the snow has melted.

However, Montana has been hit with horrible blizzards, slippery roads, and the cold air of winter. I miss my home state and pray for everyone living there.

I was reading a blog today that was about Sandy and the devastation. The blog was very well written and I enjoyed reading it. However, one statement stood out in my mind. “I can’t even imagine what those people must be going through.”

None of us can image but I am going to share a story with you that changed my life forever.

Back in the 1980’s when I was living in Montana. My husband and I decided to buy a house. There were two houses on the same street that were for sale right across from each other.

We of course didn’t agree on which house to buy but I won. I wanted one with a basement for a pre-school. The house my husband wanted the stairs were too step and narrow for pre-schoolers so he gave in so I could work at home.

We had many problems with our house when we first moved in and he felt that we had made the wrong decision. However, we were there and life went on. It was a wonderful neighborhood where older families had raised their children and watched out for our children.

A week after we moved in another family moved in across the street to the other house and we became close friends. Our children played together and we did many family things together.

Life seemed to be going great. Then our neighbor decided to take a job in Florida and leave. We knew we would miss them terribly but you go where the opportunities are.

They weren’t able to sell the house before leaving so they rented it to another family with two boys.

The two boys became friends with my sons. They had only been in the house from The beginning of school until January.

One January morning I awoke at four o’clock and something told me not to go to work. I rarely missed work as I taught remedial readers and substitutes were hard on them. However, I listened to my gut that morning.

I called in sick and rolled over and went back to sleep. Before the alarm could go off for the boys to get up for school I heard this horrible banging at the front door.

I jumped out of bed thinking that someone needs in to get away from someone else.

We didn’t live in an area where that ever happened. I felt like I had been watching too much television. However, I ran to the door.

My husband wasn’t far behind me and as I answered the door there were the two boys from across the street and their mother was running in the middle of the street.

Just as I opened the door there was a loud boom and their house burst into flames. I ran to the phone and immediately called 911 telling them there was a gas explosion.

This happened at 7:00 am and by 7:15 our streets were sealed off and neighbors were being evacuated. The red cross had arrived and the news media was at our house. The radio was reporting them as living in our home.

The father was at work and new nothing about this. He had left early that morning.

The boys were wearing nothing but long johns and boots and a coat. I went into my sons closet and found clothes that each of them could wear giving them underwear, socks, shirts, and pants.

My oldest son was around eight or nine at the time and refused to stay home. He got ready for school and left out the back door walking down the alley off to school. He didn’t want to remain in the neighborhood.

My youngest son wouldn’t leave my side he was scared to death. He was two years younger.

My husband stood in the front room looking out the picture window where we watched the entire house gutted in minutes by hot flames.

Now how had this happened? My husband never would talk about it but it was the only time I ever saw him cry.

The reality of the situation was we would have still been in bed and the boys bedrooms would have been in the basement.

The red cross put the family in a motel room for a week while insurance etc could be taken care of by the home owners. However, they didn’t have renters insurance and lost everything.

That day I was given the unpleasant task of calling my friends in Florida.  First, I called the home but no one answered. That was unusual Anne was always at home. However, I didn’t know that now she was working full-time. I knew her husband chip worked as the city engineer so I called the city and was transferred to him.

I said, ” Chip I hope you are sitting down because there is no easy way to tell you this. Your home in Montana just blew up.”

He said, “What?” Do you really mean it blew up ?” I replied, “Yes, Chip it’s gone.”

He immediately asked if the renters were okay and I said yes. He said he’d have Anne call me. Within ten minutes she called to find out what had happened.

I told her there was a gas explosion but they were still trying to figure everything out. She gave me all the information needed to give to the authorities.

I gave it to the fire inspector and he contacted them. They gave permission to tell me everything. That week I spent hours with the state fire inspector going through the rubble and learning about gas explosions.

What had happened was the gas pipe was under the cement drive way but it had not been put deep enough for the Montana deep frost lines.

We had a bad winter and the frost line ran deep cracking the gas line. Then the foundation of the house had a crack in it allowing gas to seep into the house in the basement.

The boys had arisen to the smell of gas and had told their mother and as it was getting stronger she called them upstairs and said we need to get out.

They headed out the door and forgetting her purse she went back for it falling. She was lucky to make to the side-walk when the house blew. Never go back for anything you forget.

The fire marshal said, had they turned off the heater it would have blown sooner. Gas and air have to have a balance to blow and that balance would have happened sooner if the heater hadn’t been working.

Now daily I sat and stared at a frame less house that had been blown three feet off of its foundation during the worst month of the year.  All we had to look at was the toilet in the basement that was still in place. The kitchen utilities had melted.

Now if that wasn’t bad enough later on we would have an electric storm that would hit the toilet and damage the sewer line.

I spent a month of my life going to work everyday trying not to think about it. However, when I returned home there is was and donations kept arriving. I would was everything up then call the renter and she would come and take what they needed and the rest was sent to Goodwill. My house looked like a Goodwill place.

It started to get to my husband and he no longer wanted the boxes around but I convinced him it would soon be over and it was at the end of the month.

The renters were able to find a house to rent. They went on with their lives and we never saw them again.

The owners were able to sale the property as is to a man who wanted to build from scratch and they came out okay. (Very well)

We were left with scars. What would have happened if we had bought that house? Now my sons couldn’t be around gas or even look at a pilot light.

When their father and I divorced several years later the boys wouldn’t let me rent any house with gas.

It took a good twenty years for those scars to disappear. Yet there are still moments of that day that recur.

However, I will always thank God for telling me not to go to work that day. I was where I needed to be.

I not only took care of the neighbors but I was able to take care of my family.

We were lucky we didn’t get evacuated. However, for three days the houses on either side were evacuated until all gas lines could be checked.

I cried a lot when all was said and done. I had never in my entire life seen anything so devastating and that was one house. One block of lives effect and yet a community came out in droves to help.

I had never seen anything like it. I hope I never do again.

Every time there is a natural disaster I relieve that day and pray for those who are affected by it. It changes one forever.

How does one feel? NUMB! You don’t have any idea what emotions you even have at first and when you start to feel again, tears pour out for many reasons. You cry for the lost of everything. You cry for everything and everyone you are thankful for. You cry out of fear, love, and anger. Your emotions run ramped and you pray that you can channel them so you can move on through one day at a time.

It is the smiles the love and the outreach from others that get you through it or you would just sit there and stare in shock.

However, momentum from others helps you to find your own.

So as the east coast goes through this devastation lets give them the encouragement, smiles, love and momentum that they need to move forward for we are each others energy.

God Bless you all.

So until next time 🙂


2 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing your story. Multiply it many times and you’ll see the death and devastation of Sandy’s imapct on Staten island where i live. Some, after almost two weeks still don’t have power and many have nothing left of their homes and nowhere to go. It’s a nightmare with the possibility of yet a third storm coming our way. Say a prayer-we have our gas rationed adn it’s going to be a long time before things get back to normal.


    • Micki I can’t imagine what you are going through. I pray every morning, afternoon, and evening for all touched by Sandy. I pray that they will be able to get the power to those that need it and the gas so that there aren’t gas fights like I have seen on television. It will take a long time and lives will never be the same as before but hopefully everyone will be able to pick up and start new taking it one day at a time. I pray all of you stay safe and warm and have food.

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