In the storm we work…and I jump in puddles


I went puddle jumping Thursday afternoon. Literally.

But I wasn’t dressed for the occasion. I was busy at the computer as usual in the afternoon and got up to stretch my legs. I walked through the hallway into my bedroom to find it pitch black at 2:20 in the afternoon.

My daughter, who’s home for the summer from her first year at the University of Iowa, was downstairs getting some needed rest. She’s had a rough summer.

“Hey, is there a storm blowing in?” I yelled from the top of the stairs.

“Uh…yeah. It’s pretty dark out and the wind’s blowing,” she replied.

I’m not sure, but I think she was under my Minnesota Vikings blanket. My girls have a tendency to think that any time there’s danger, be it a canary…or a bat…or a tornado…the safest place is on my couch with a blanket over their heads. Geezus.

Thunderstorms are my candy.

“Wanna go storm chasin’,” I asked her.


I chuckled and headed back to the office to get some work done when the scanner came on with traffic from LeeComm indicating multiple trees down blocking roads and possible power lines down.

I grabbed the camera bag and headed downstairs.

“Hey, let’s go shoot pix of the storm damage,” I said.

“Do I have to get out of the car,” she said.


So we ran to the car with an umbrella and headed down Avenue E to the east end where a tree dumped over the street from the south side and somehow missed any vehicles. Her job was to hold the camera as I got in and out, and listen to the scanner. I got out with the umbrella shading my back from the driving rain and my camera safely tucked underneath and began shooting.

When I got back in I heard another announcement of a tree falling on a car over by Shopton Park but I didn’t get all the details until later.

“Where was that at?” I asked. “Umm. I wasn’t listening,” she said as she “Snap-chatted” to a friend about being out chasing storm damage. “You and mom should “Snapchat” Pen City Current,” she said. Hmmmm.

Then we headed back up Avenue E to the west where another tree had fallen from the south and city crews were already out in lightning and driving rain cutting limbs with chain saws trying to open a lane of traffic back up. I pulled out the soaked umbrella and went up the flooded sidewalks. By the time I got a 1/2 block up the street, my shoes and socks were soaked. I shot the pictures, and then got this big grin on my face and ran splashing and laughing through the rain back to my car.

Those guys must have thought I was an idiot. Weeks away from 50 and here’s this 6′-2″ idiot bounding down the sidewalk splashing in flooded sidewalks as his daughter looks through rain-sheeted glass at her fool of a father. Upon entering the vehicle the scanner indicated something about the “paper guy following us around”. That’s me…just out following things around.

As I got back in the car laughing and just throwing the now-pointless umbrella in the backseat, I started thinking about these people in harms way working to put the city back together even before it was done being beaten up.

We drove by the fireworks tent at Fareway and the 40-foot Gorilla lost all his gas after apparently being blown down the street. Where was my camera then? As we came back from looking around Shopton Park we saw the other fireworks tent at Hy-Vee was being tended to after a westerly wind gust bent the poles inside and toppled one side of the tent.  Head football coach Tony Shiffman thought he was in a tornado and sent all the troops to the grocery for cover.

An hour later about 15 football players, families, and volunteers were there trying to put the thing back together.

Some days you wonder about things, but in the middle of a wicked, fast-moving thunderstorm…your town’s still your town.

Way to go folks.

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