Sometimes, it's really hard to separate the personal from the professional. Wednesday afternoon, I watched a thunderstorm suddenly appear as if out of nowhere on the on-line weather radar, and it looked as if it was headed right for Lake Isabella as the cell turned bright red.
In minutes, the police scanner was full of traffic, describing trees down, power lines down, a barn lost its roof. This didn't sound like any ordinary summer thunderstorm, so I called Robert, who was at home, to get his take.
It had been rocking and rolling -- hail, intense wind, and during the call, the power went out. I headed toward Lake Is, and I found devastation.
I wrote the first-day story and the followup for the Morning Sun.
A lot of the damage was in our own neighborhood, the area called The Forest. People described how the rain had fallen so hard they couldn't even see the ends of their decks, hail the size of nickels, and wind -- the wind! Weather Service experts estimated that it was well over 70 mph -- straight-line winds.
Neighbor Wayne Bauer has lived in Lake Isabella for 32 years, and a giant oak tree practically split his simple mobile home in half.
Just a few houses away on Barcelona Drive, a popple toppled -- right into a house.
Three trees hit this home, occupied by a mom, dad and four kids -- including a newborn.
Job One: Clear the blocked streets.
Brush was piled high along the roadsides.
We got lucky -- only some leaves and branches piled up on our back deck.
We lost a couple of trees in our woods, but that's minor. Nothing big hit the house, and the front yard just looked messy.
A few blocks over, a weekend resident from Westland found himself spending his vacation with a chain saw.
Down the street, a garden shed like the one we used to have was tossed around like a toy.
Over on Bundy Drive, a tree expert begins the ticklish job of removing a tree from the roof.
A wooded lot on El Camino Grande isn't quite as wooded as it once was. Notice how the trees have all blown down in pretty much the same direction -- this wasn't a tornado; it was straight-line winds.
Out on Coldwater Road, the winds blew down the north wall of the new shopping center under construction.
The village, through the county, has asked for a disaster declaration. All told, 90 homes -- about one in 10 in the village -- were damaged, and 30 of them just can't be lived in any more.
Power was out for a while, the water system went down while the pumps were out, and Internet service didn't get restored until 11 p.m. Thursday. But it's back, no one got hurt, we're safe, the house is in good shape (and still for sale), and mid-Michigan's firewood suppliers just got a windfall -- literally.