Has it Really Been 5 Years?

Tonight marks the 5-year anniversary of when an F-2 tornado tore through the heart of my beloved college town, Iowa City, Iowa.  Five years since I survived my very first (and hopefully last) tornado!!  It's hard to believe it's already been that long!!  I'm terrified of tornadoes (and probably always will be), so for me, it was quite the experience.

I remember many of the details of that day.  I remember what I had for dinner that evening, and I remember that it was unusually warm for April.  I remember what I was wearing and that it was a Thursday (big night out for college kids--officials said that probably helped prevent injuries and fatalities).  I remember the storm, the tornado sirens, and I remember camping out in the basement while my heart pounded nervously.  I also remember hearing for the first time that a possible tornado had struck campus.

Of course, when news of a tornado spreads, what do college kids do?  Go explore!  I was one of the many thousand that ventured out to investigate at 9pm that night, despite the warnings against it and down trees and power lines.  I could not believe the devastation.  The debris.  The chaos.  Nor could I believe that a sorority house a block from my apartment was demolished, yet somehow my apartment complex narrowly escaped any damage.  I got lucky, that's for sure!  The night was a crazy, chaotic mess...one I will never forget.

After exploring the night of, we ventured back out the following day in the broad daylight to get a better understand of how bad the storm really was.  Flipped cars, crushed cars, uprooted trees, snapped telephone poles, missing walls, missing roofs, and bricks ripped from houses are a few of my most vivid memories.  Another thing I remember is splattered mud everywhere and the smell of gas.  The whole thing was very surreal and such an unbelievable sight.  Like something only seen on t.v.  This was the ONLY time in my 5 1/2 year college career that all University classes were officially canceled.

Could it have been worse?  Sure!  Was it the worse tornado that's ever hit a town?  Absolutely not.  But the fact that it hit a metropolitan area and center of a college campus made it a very rare event.

Eventually, the debris was cleaned, walls were re-built, and life went on.  I know it seems cliche, but it was very touching to see a college community and town come together after such an unexpected, unusual experience like the tornado of '06.

I pulled some old pictures from Facebook.  With the exception of the first, all the pictures below are photos that I personally took of the storm damage.

Downtown IC/University of Iowa Campus.  If you look closely, you can see dust and debris in the air.

You can see mud splattered all over those cars

The bricks were torn from the side of this building.  You can also see through the roof!  (This apartment complex shared a parking lot with mine!)

Can you imagine getting hit by one of those?

Front view of the sorority house - this made national news ("Good Morning America") by the way.

Ravine of the sorority house


Probably one of the worse houses...yet the tv on the 2nd floor is in perfect place

Well, hello couch.

No walls or roof, but dishes still in the drying rack!

The historical St. Patrick's church that was destroyed.  You can see through the roof!

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