My uncle’s farm outside Raymond, Kansas, was hit by a tornado late Saturday night. Everybody’s OK, but the devastation is pretty complete. The farmhouse is still standing, but the roof was lifted up and the windows blown out, so that doesn’t mean much.
While my uncle currently lives there, this has been the family farm. My grandparents originally owned the house and my mom grew up there with her siblings. My aunt was married there (I was the ring bearer in the wedding, though I seem to remember thinking I was the ring bear). When my grandparents “retired” (?) and moved to town, my uncle and his family moved in. My cousins grew up there and I have so many memories of going out to the farm. We’d play flashlight tag, truth or dare, light firecrackers, build forts in the old scrap iron pile and fight like siblings inevitably do.
There are a lot of memories in that place. Here’s what it looks like now:
I don’t have a very good before picture, but here’s my grandparents standing in front of that same door celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. And here’s my aunt standing on those very steps at her wedding. A little generational history at that old farmhouse.
The devastation is much more complete away from the house. A giant machine shed and two-story wooden barn were completely destroyed. In this picture those buildings should line the left side of the road. In the distance you can see a combine and several vehicles that were lined up inside the shed, which is now completely gone.
I remember that driveway feeling crowded with buildings. Not so much anymore. Now it’s mostly debris. A concrete silo was completely knocked down and debris is strewn all over, sheet metal wrapped around trees and even a pipe piercing a tractor tire.
My uncle heard reports of a tornado near Raymond on the radio and made for the cellar. Five minutes later his ears popped, then there was a loud boom and then nothing but the sound of falling glass. That was it.
This picture is probably the most brutal, my grandparents, picking through the debris. I don’t know what they hope to accomplish there, and maybe the futility of it is what makes it hurt all the more.
But then there’s my favorite picture. Among all that chaos and devastation, my uncle and cousin are standing there smiling:
Its just another storm to weather. After all, it’s just stuff.