With a capital “S”…

St. Patricks Day. Thursday 3/17/16. The wife and I have snuck off on a low-budget road trip to New Orleans to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. This day we happen to be perusing the Audubon Zoo.

9:23 am. I’m watching the otters play when my phone goes off. It’s the alarm company for the monitored alarm on the Old Vic.

Ominous hum.....

Ominous hum…..

“We have an alarm at your address.”
“What zone?”
A pause, which is unusual. They usually know.
“Uh…it looks like…all of ’em.”
I blink. Huh. That’s not really possible with any event that wouldn’t already involve fire-trucks, professionals, and quite possibly…mushroom clouds.
“Obviously a malfunction. Disregard. I’ll check on it.”
Passwords and code phrases are exchanged and life is good.

Except I want to check.

As I’m scrolling down the list for my Mom’s number…she lives a block or so away and can see what’s up…a text comes in from her.
“Horrible storm here. Sirens blaring, power out, heavy…” [/endtrans]

“Well, that can’t be good.”

I tried to call but it wouldn’t connect. I decided to give it a few minutes. Finally the rest of the text came through and I was able to text back and make sure she was okay. That message contained a picture of a yard covered solid with hail and vegetation debris on her porch.

Shortly thereafter my friend Laura at the Chamber of Commerce called to let me know we had widespread damage around town, on the square, and also at Cupola Art.

I heard, “A waterfall inside.” and not much else.

I thanked her and we continued our zoo tour. We are, at best, 8 hours away and it would be dark before we got there. We may as well enjoy the zoo. There’s nothing else to be done. I sent my Mom a picture of an elephant sculpture fountain and told her when we’d be home.

(These photos were emailed to me, I believe they are credited to David Tommy Rogers.)


We arrive at the Old Vic at midnight. The power is still out in the entire city. That’s a good indicator of the severity of the storm. I didn’t even drive by Cupola Art…it’s dark and there’s nothing constructive to be accomplished.

At home it takes us an annoyingly long time to find just ONE of the 247 flashlights we *know* are scattered about the Old Vic.

There is a pile of hail still on the porch…eleven hours after the storm on a balmy spring day…and paint chips. Lots of paint chips. That’s another indicator of the severity of this thing. The hail took paint off the house!

A pile of hail some 11 hours after the storm...and paint. Lots of paint.

A pile of hail some 11 hours after the storm…and paint. Lots of paint.

“Would it help?”

Sleep would be good. It’s dark, and I already know…tomorrow’s gonna be busy.

My head hit the pillow and I dreamed of indoor waterfalls…for a moment. Then I had to pee. Stupid brain.


Friday dawned cool and threatening. I entered the building, looked upstairs at the carnage and light coming through the ceiling/roof, and shook my head a bit. The damage is extensive. Windows smashed. Frames pushed out of the walls. Glass and roofing debris from other buildings everywhere.

Overwhelming…and heartbreaking.

But what do you do?

Yah figure out what you’ve got and do what you can with it.

Went by the lumber yard and bought some tarps and asked them to deliver some OSB and 2×4’s. I’ll mention it again…but Allens Lumber in Clarksville absolutely rocks it.

Mmmm. Tarps. Plywood. Lumber. Screws. Nails. Tools. Donuts. Coffee.

Yeah, I can work with this.

I DID have to detour for the doughnuts. The building materials were waiting for me on my sidewalk before I got back to the shop.


Damage is widespread and severe around the city. Many roofs damaged. Trees and power lines down. Debris driven through masonry walls. Windows and doors destroyed. The roof off the jail is gone. The path of the worst damage goes right through downtown. My damage is serious…but not anywhere as bad as some.

One historic house is broken and pushed off it’s foundation.

My friend Mike came to help and we found my neighbor already on the roof checking out his damage, and beginning to tarp mine (they didn’t know when we’d get to town). Good neighbors here.

Roof peeled and hatch gone.

Roof peeled and hatch gone.

Rear damage...torn all the way across.

Rear damage…torn all the way across.

We got the front damage tarped and sealed pretty well. The back part was more difficult as the water from the front of the roof would just flow under a tarp and into the building. I wanted to seal down the tarp with roofing tar, but before we had a chance, the next storm blew in, complete with lightning, rain, and small hail. Time to abandon the roof.

As the deluge began adding a couple hundred more gallons of water to what was already downstairs, we hung a tarp in the second floor room below the rear roof damage and directed (most of) the water to a kiddie pool.

I would empty that twice more from that storm.

A cool, refreshing dip anybody?

A cool, refreshing dip anybody?

The rest of the afternoon was spent sweeping and vacuuming water (thank heavens for Shop Vac!) out of the downstairs, moving furniture out of the waterfall area, and cleaning up fallen ceiling tiles and insulation.

My friend James saw my facebook post and calls. “I’ll be there.” Mike and James. Good friends.

I needed a truck. One of mine was dead and the other was in another city since we’d taken the car for the road trip. We decided after dark I’d take the wife to the Suburban Blah House and grab my truck.

We made it 17 miles.

Well, ain't that just the icing on the cake?

Well, ain’t that just the icing on the cake?

Fun to the pouring rain with 80mph trucks.

Fun to change…in the pouring rain with 80mph trucks.

Debris from the carnage about town no doubt. Must have thrown it…it went down fast. TPMS warned me at 22…it dropped to 20 while I was grocking that…and 18…and 16…and 12…and was 4 before I got stopped.

I put on the doughnut spare and we limped back to the Old Vic. Too late to get it fixed and a doughnut spare isn’t up to a 150 mile trek…especially in the rain.

Annnd…next week I’ll order a FRIGGEN ACTUAL RIM for the car with a real tire on it for a spare so we don’t have to LIMP anywhere. I hate these things with a passion and frankly think I should be able to toss them through the front window of any dealer that equips their cars with them (all of ’em).

Well crap.


Saturday dawned cool, breezy, and clear. I was at the Walmart when they opened (closest tire store open early). Of course it couldn’t be fixed (too close to the sidewall). A new tire was required. Par for the course this weekend.

Back to the Old Vic. Breakfast. Coffee. Bacon. Mike and I decide the best action is to patch the rear part of the roof as best as we can to keep the majority of the water out since the tarp is so ineffective.

When ya need major surgery to stop the bleeding but all you have is a box of bandaids…well…you apply the shit out of the bandaids.

Flip stuff into place, add tar, fabric, more tar. This takes a fair portion of the day.

Goop and gauze.

Goop and gauze.

Next we tackle the worst window. The frames are bashed in, some free of the masonry.

West window pushed in.

West window pushed in.

These windows are nearly 10 feet tall and almost 4 feet wide. Removing the frame was not an easy task.

Window frame. Mike for scale!

Window frame. Mike for scale!

West windows.

West windows.

Tower Windows destroyed.

Tower Windows destroyed.

Solid hits to the north side.

Solid hits to the north side.

When it got dark I piled the wife and such in Da’ Altima and drove her to the Suburban Blah house so we could refill some critical supplies and I could get a truck.

Six hours round trip. I’m thinkin’ I could have used the sleep.


Sunday James, Mike, and I tackled boarding the rest of the windows and some cleanup. It went remarkably well and I owe a lot to these guys. Mostly we cleaned glass from the areas we were working…by no means did we get it all. Glass from the front windows is as far as 40 feet down the hall.




Monday I spent cleaning up ceiling tiles and insulation downstairs while waiting on the roofing guys to come take a look. They were also coming to inspect the roof on the Old Vic. Yeah. That one. The one I put on at great stress and expense juuuusssst about this time last year.

Yep. Totaled. No structural damage or leaks, but will need re-shingled (sob). More on that as it develops.

The damage tally at Cupola Art is painful.
–The roof is a loss. 400-600 square feet pulled loose. It will have to be stripped and recovered. Fortunately there appears to be no structural damage there.
–Eight blown out/smashed windows for a total of just around 300 square feet. Add this to a couple that were boarded up last spring and I’ve got a major mess here. Every remaining window has trim/sash damage or cracked wood and needs attention.
None of windows…not ONE…can just have the glass replaced and go on. New parts and complete regluing at the least is required for the sashes…and there is a lot of trim shattered on the frames.
–Only one window remains in the front of the building upstairs. All the tower windows were destroyed.
–Three complete frames smashed loose from the building, one we had to pull completely out…the other two may be able to be re-set and re-attached without the complete removal.
–At least 12 sashes are destroyed and will need major rebuild.
The sashes are a bit light duty for the square footage and weight of the glass required…so I’m unsure at this moment how to proceed. We are fairly certain the windows failed first and that resulted in the lifting of the roof covering free of the decking and the resulting damage there…so upgrading the glass at the least is required here.
–Hundreds of gallons of water downstairs took out a lot of ceiling tiles and insulation but we seem to have little other damage there.

My "not for wet environments" LED tubes working in wet environments.

My “not for wet environments” LED tubes working in wet environments.

VERY large sash weights.

VERY large sash weights.

A lot depends on the getting the roof repaired. There is never a good time but this is financially devastating and there may be no resources to tackle the windows (or anything else) for some time.
The recent sheetrock work for the bathrooms survived mostly unscathed so at least there’s that…otherwise *everything* I’ve accomplished there in the last THREE years was undone.

All in all I cleaned and bagged up several hundred pounds of debris and got it out of the building (wet=mold so this was important to get out of the building).

It was enough that I had to make two trips in my little truck. More to do, but the critical stuff is done…the roof is the important bit now.

Note…MUST get more contractor trash bags! (you can hide bodies in those…well…ur…not that I have any bodies I need to hide or anything).

Thanks to the help of my friends and neighbors, I’ve downgraded from “completely overwhelmed” to just an “Awww shit” level.

Dreams on hold. More as it develops.

UPDATE: And then it got worse… (link)

And then even worse…(link)

And then there’s this… (link)

Daniel Meyer


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