On Saturday I drove J out to National Park an hour or so from our home for his first ever Beaver Camp Out for the end of year Troop Celebration. It had taken some convincing to get him to the point where he was comfortable with staying overnight and even when I drove away that morning I knew there was a chance I might get a late night call to come get him, and that would have been ok.
But that call never came.
During the night I vaguely recall hearing some loud thunder. In the early morning A and I quietly conversed in bed, me hoping out loud that J slept through the storm. I was thankful that the Beavers and Cubs of the Scouting troop were in the Bunk Houses rather than tents. I got up and turned on the radio enjoying the easygoing morning where C slept in while I made pancakes for everyone before I had to get ready for the long drive to go pick up J.
I had a few minutes before I had to jump in the shower so I sat down to the computer to check blogs and my local mom forum. And I saw it – State of Emergency Declared in the town neighbouring the Provincial Park. I swear all the air was sucked out of the room I was in. I quickly clicked on the online local paper and there were pictures of mass destruction from the early morning storm that had hit the town. Roads were closed. Power was down. I walked upstairs to where A was. I could barely breath as I tried to tell him the news. I tried to call the Provincial Park. No answer. I tried to call the Leaders cell numbers, no answer.
We have very good friends, lets call them Honey and Jake, who live out in that area and though it was still early I called them. Luckily they had power and their phones were working. She answered and told me Jake was up and already down by the water, the hardest hit area. I told her where J was and listened as the air also left her lungs and Honey worked to not panic as well. J is the son Honey and Jake never had and I whole heartedly share him with them (I will tell you more of their story another time). I asked Honey to call Jake and ask him to see if he could get to J and bring him to their house. All I could think of was to make sure my boy was safe and I wasn’t even sure I would be able to get to the park with all the road closures. Honey agreed they would try and I proceeded to get ready to get in my van to at least try to get to their house to be that much closer to J.
As I threw on my clothes all I could do was pray that my boy was first and foremost unhurt and that second he was not terrified. It was horrible knowing I was so far away and not able to get to him. I bolted out the front door, leaving A and a sleeping C behind and was just leaping into the van when A came running out the front door – phone in hand saying it was Honey on the phone. She wanted me to know that Jake had been able to reach the park and had spoken with the Park Supervisor. Everyone was perfectly fine.
He could not get J though. There were trees and powerlines down. They were working hard to clear it and would hopefully have the path cleared by the time the parents would get there for 11 a.m. There was nothing to do but sit and wait a little while longer. I thanked Honey, hung up, and fell onto the couch. We agreed we would wait a while longer then head out as a family as it might take longer to make it around all the detours and blockades and I didn’t think I had the strength after that turmoil to do it myself.
When we got to the park shortly before 11 we had to wait and we chatted with the Park Staff. The Scout Troop had been the only overnight guests in the park but thankfully the leaders had figured out around 2:15 a.m. that the weather had decidedly taken a turn for the worst and got all the kids that were in tents out and into the mess hall. It was later determined that a Tornado hit the neighbouring town around 2:45 a.m. The Beavers of the group slept through the ENTIRE event. When they woke up in the morning all they cared about was that they couldn’t turn on the lights. The leaders themselves didn’t even know the extent of the damage in the town or that a natural disaster or state of emergency had been declared. The crews at the park had to work from the early morning hours right up to our arrival at 11 a.m. just to clear a path so we could go in and retrieve our children. While the crews worked our kids ate breakfast and played soccer. While the parents were scared out of their wits with worry the kids were laughing and playing. And I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I am so thankful to those volunteer leaders for keeping their calm and for being prepared.
Needless to say – J received a lot of hugs that day and the days since then. Yesterday I picked him up early from school and we just went and did fun stuff. Hanging out just the two of us as I try not to think too much about “what if . . .” but trying instead to to just be thankful for what is.
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