Vacations are supposed to be a time of joy. A chance to create memories and spend time with family and friends. However, there are certain times when the universe has other plans. That is when vacations become memorable for far worse reasons. Our family vacation to OCrolla, North Carolina in August 2011 was exactly that. What started out a a fantastic relaxing vacation quickly became a family nightmare. In a mere six days we weathered a deadly tornado, a freak earthquake, and a record breaking hurricane.
Our family vacation that Saturday afternoon started like any other. As we began our trip south the blue skies and warm weather assured us that we were going to have a fantastic trip. However, it was not long before we got a taste of the chaos that would follow us for the remainder of our trip. A mere two hours into our drive we noticed the skies darkening. What were once bright sapphire blue skies, were quickly becoming a concerning gray with streaks of nearly black skies. Within minutes the rain started. The roads quickly became makeshift rivers from the excessive rain that had nowhere else to go. The wind howled and shook us in our cars like we were in cardboard boxes. We did our best to stay calm but with each passing minute the anxiety heightened and we quickly realized that this was not an ordinary passing thunderstorm. Frozen from panic we had no choice but to stop driving and hope for the best. We took shelter in the parking lot of a local grocery store and decided to wait out the storm. Sirens howled as the worst of the storm hit us head on. Trees were blowing so hard they were nearly bent in half. You couldn’t see more than 10 feet in front of you. As quickly as it came; it left. Within minutes the skies lightened and quickly cleared all together. The rain, puddled on the road, dissipated, and once again you could see the road in front of you. We later learned that an F2 tornado hit a town less than 2 miles from the parking lot where we decided to take shelter. As we all took a deep breath and regained our composure we decided it was safe enough to continue our drive, all the while giving thanks that we made it out of the tornado unscathed.
On the second day of our vacation just as we were starting o relax and put the nightmare of our drive down behind us, we began our day like any other. We prepared