Wow. Our vacation started out dramatic before we even went anywhere. Our plan was to hop on a plane at 6:30am and be in Key West by 4pm. We still managed to get there around 6:30pm, which was pretty much a miracle.
Rewind to the Friday night before our departure. Mother Nature was in quite a mood. Apparently, it was time to make a mess...tornado style. We were enjoying dinner out with Chris and Amy when my phone buzzed with an email. For whatever reason, I checked it. Good thing I did. Tornado warning for our county. Since the entire restaraunt seemed oblivious to the fact that it was even storming, I asked Ep to go outside and check things out. In the meantime, I asked for the check in case we needed to make a hasty escape. He eventually came back to the table and said we needed to leave right then. While I paid, the rest of the crew got loaded in the truck. I had to drive and Ep warned me there might be some really heavy rain, but that it was best we go home than stay where we were. That was all he would tell me. Nervous anyone? I was. Nothing like driving into a storm and not knowing what I am running into/from. By the time I took the exit by our house, we had the radio on with the weather information. I was getting texts asking if we were taking cover and if we were ok. The weathermen were saying "if you live/are on xxxx street, you need to be taking cover. We were on those streets. We got about a mile from our house and the rain really slacked. I hoped that the main storm had gone south of us and we were just on the fringe of it. Then the rain stopped and I started praying out loud. I told God that we were almost there and please oh please let us get there safely. He heard my prayer. We will never know how close we actually came to being in the tornado. It left a swath of destruction about 3 miles from our house and also on the same exact offramp where we exited the interstate. When we got home, we went straight under the house...except for Ep, who chose to go stand on the front porch. He said our neighbors trees (tall, tall pines) were touching housetops and when the wind shifted and swirled, he came under the house as well. I was too scared at that point to even gripe at him for being outside in that weather! The place where we ate dinner was in the direct path of the storm and sat on a hilltop...which is why Ep decided we should leave. To our knowledge, they didn't have any damage but had a very, very, very close call.
Then there was the arrival of my parents. They had gone to a surprise birthday party for my uncle. I had to call them and tell them to stop or they would drive staight into the path of a confirmed tornado. When they were able to start driving again, traffice was pretty much halted everywhere because of debri on roadways. They weren't able to exit because that same exact exit we had used was now blocked off due to damage. They took the next exit and I was giving them directions over the phone when the tornado sirens went off again and a possible tornado was once again headed our way. That is when they came across the point where they had to turn around because of downed power lines. Eventually, they made it to our house.
Thats when we found out that the airport was sending planes to other airports because of debri on the runway...and the plane that was supposed to take us to Houston got re-routed to another airport...where it stayed all night....I worked for an hour with Contintal airlines trying to figure out our best option. The best thing they could come up with was to get us to Tampa, where we would spend the night...and fly to Key West on Sunday. I declined and told her we would just take our chances....