Arriving in Valentine, Nebraska around 2 p.m., the sky was a beautiful blue with white clouds floating through it like little boats. The Sandhills in the area were covered with green grasses and everywhere large bales of hay were in fields.
Clouds were starting to build in the west, as we drove Corrine Pascoe, who will celebrate her 90th birthday, to a movie that evening. There were weather warnings about the possibility of severe thunderstorms.
After the movie we asked the woman at the concession stand if it had rained. “It was really bad,” she said. “The radio said there are trees down all around the town.”
So, we went looking. The highway that runs through Main Street was flooded, with water about a foot deep. Massive trees in one area of the town had been uprooted. A woman who lived on Main Street had two trees knocked down in her yard and suspected that maybe a mini-funnel cloud had come down.
Another woman in the next block said they were in the dining room, when all of a sudden their neighbor’s trash cans hit their glass sliding doors. A tree was uprooted in their yard. She, too suspected that maybe a funnel cloud had touched down.
And unlike Pacific Palisades, where people wait until L.A. Street Services or L.A. Fire Department come and cut down the tree and remove it, neighbors with chain saws came out and started cutting the branches of the massive trees. As soon as they were cut, people helped carry them away. Other neighbors were picking up branches and raking the leaves that had covered the lawns during the storm.
As we went into Corrine’s house, she turned on the local radio. The announcer said, “Stop driving around the town. Stay home. You are hindering emergency vehicles.”
The entire tree removal operation was put on hold about 30 minutes later, when a cloud burst and lightning storm sent sheets of water on the already drenched ground.
“Bet you don’t get storms like this where you live,” Corrine said.
No, we don’t, but we have other emergencies in Pacific Palisades, such as motorcycles that drive through town and make noise and nannies that call in sick, which is exactly why we don’t want to deal with weather, too.