Tornado in Goderich: The one where we come home

Melissa Wormington is a Goderich blogger, who has documented her journey since the tornado ripped through town in August 2011, affecting the lives of her family: husband, Jeff, and children, Jack and Makenna.

You can follow Melissa’s journey on her blog site, The Story of Us. Reprinted with permission.

I know.

You’ve been waiting.

It’s the one post everyone’s been looking forward to reading.

The one where we come home.

Hard to believe it…but here it is…

After a whirlwind last couple of weeks that included moments where Jeff and I were convinced it wouldn’t be ready on time, our contractor texted Jeff at about 3:30 on Thursday, March 30 with the message “complete”. We couldn’t wait to be done work and rush over to check it out for ourselves.

When we opened the door and entered our home, just the four of us, no workers present, everything finished….I’m not sure I, the person of so many words, can explain how it felt.

Everything was done.

The trim was up, the doorknobs were on, the towel and toilet paper bars were up, the mirrors were up, the floors were swept and mopped…everything smelled and looked so new and clean…

It was just beautiful.

It was everything I hoped for.

Everything I wanted.

And best of all?

It already felt like home. It suited us. Everything from the colours to the flooring, to the amazing, a m a z i n g kitchen…it was “us”.

Tomorrow we would come home.

The next morning, of course, Mike arrived first. It was as big a day for him as it was for us. Such a long road travelled, so much had happened to us, for us and between us, there was nowhere else my brother would be on this day. He had set all of this in motion for us and was here to see it completed and see us come home. From the moment I woke up, my cell phone was going off with well wishes from friends and family being posted on my Facebook wall and sent to my inbox. It reminded me of the first few days following the tornado, feeling overwhelmed by all the support and encouragement. Without me even posting about it that morning yet, people knew what was happening that day for us and wanted us to know they were thinking of us. My mom posted that this, moving day, marked Day 222 of our journey and as I continued to pause what I was doing and read what was being posted to my Facebook wall, I started to tear up at the love people were showing us. I was actually surprised by how emotional I was feeling that morning, but it had been an emotional week and this day was the culmination of…so much. I willed myself to pull it together and not be a blubbering mess like last time.

Our final inspection took place at 8 a.m. that morning. Jeff and my brother were both present for it with our contractor while I got the kids ready for school and daycare. Once the final okay was given and handshakes were exchanged all around, our contractor presented Jeff with a lovely potted plant and heartfelt note of thanks – and a case of beer.

Love that guy.

Four of the firemen as well as my dad all arrived around the same time and with Makenna at school and Jack at Jodi’s, the process of bringing our family home got underway.

 That is, after the firemen assisted the paramedics responding to a call down the street.

Thanks to some good planning on my part, our phone/internet provider arrived right around 8 a.m. to connect services to our new home so I got to hang out at the new house while they did their work. My mom arrived to help for the day and I gave her the same tour I had given a few girlfriends the night before – of the house completely empty and completely clean before all the chaos began. Once her kids were off to school, Sheila arrived as well and we were ready to make this brand new house our home.

This day was, obviously, much more organized than the day we moved off of this property. There were a lot less people, Jeff was in charge and both of our heads were much more clear and focused. Eastlink arrived before noon to connect the cable and I was very pleased to have phone, internet and cable all working by mid-afternoon. Patti arrived with a Welcome Home sign for us that she had ordered online. I was touched by her thoughtfulness. Always remembering the little details, she walked through the front door and, just as she did the day after the tornado, gushed “I love what you’ve done with the place!

Throughout the day I was filled with such gratitude while surrounded by those that had come to help us. There was my brother who had been such an instrumental part of this entire process, seeing it through with us, often for us, from start to finish. He had grown so much since August, we all had, and he had done everything humanly possible to make sure we were satisfied, treated well and happy. I truly owed him perhaps more than anyone else for how well this had worked out for us. My Dad, who was out West when the tornado hit and wasn’t able to help us at all back in August was here today along with my brother and my mom. Having all four of us under the same roof doesn’t happen very often. Of course, my mom, who had done so much for us over the last seven months, driving here on that Sunday, walking into town from Saltford and weaving her way through downed trees and power wires to find us and take my kids away to safety for six days, watching the news and my Facebook page to keep up to date and reassure our children their mom and dad were okay, and everything else she has done for us since, was busy unpacking boxes and hanging up clothes. Darren, whose house we lived at for 14 days in the initial aftermath, who kept a close eye on Jeff during that first week, who along with his wife, Jen, helped out with Makenna so many times while I was struggling in the fall to keep my head above water, along with fellow firefighters Ian, Jay and Bummer worked at loading and carrying boxes all day long. They only threatened a hoarders type intervention a couple times.  Almost all of these people booked the day off work to help us.   It wouldn’t have been right without Patti there, even if only for a little while. Patti, who did so much for me in the days and weeks after the tornado struck, who has been there for me when I wanted to scream, wanted to complain, wanted to cry, and wanted to quit. Who listened to me, found my eyes when they couldn’t connect with hers and ignored the tears threatening to fall during lunches at The Bedford. Who quietly kept a watchful eye and offered tactful medical advice throughout the fall when I needed it. Who answered texts at all hours of the night and even kept me up to date from inside the delivery room of a very important birth. She was a part of this day too, welcoming us back to the neighbourhood. With the loss of trees in this area, I can see her house clearly from the upstairs of mine now.

And Sheila.

Sheila, who from the very first hours, has never stopped thinking of me, never stopped listening to me, never stopped being there, never stopped helping. Who has supplied everything from cleaning supplies, to hangers, to toilet paper to unwavering support. Who listened and listened and listened. Who just knew. Who came and never left. Who never worried about what time it was. Who never asked what I wanted done, because she never needed to; she just set to work, made executive decisions and got it done. She worked away quietly all day long for us, laughing with us along the way.

It’s hard to put into the words the debts I feel towards these people, as well as to the others who helped us in other ways, whether it was watching our children, encouraging us all along the way, knowing what to say and what not to say or offering their assistance and expertise in various areas of homebuilding.

Where would I be without you people?

By about 4 p.m., the house on Wellington Street was empty and the house on Park Street was full. We had worked at setting up the kids’ rooms first so that when they came home from school and daycare their rooms would be waiting for them. Their beds were set up and made, some toys were out and clothes hung in their closets. When Jeff brought them from Jodi’s to their new home, they came tearing through the front door just vibrating with excitement. They loved their new rooms, loved their new home, and were just so excited that their Grandma, Gramps and Uncle Mike were here to see it too. We had saved a couple of things for them to assist with putting up in their own rooms and they took such delight in making sure everything was just perfect. They ran in circles for a bit, not sure where to go or what to do first. Jack kept saying he couldn’t believe we were actually living here now. When Makenna’s friend and her mom stopped by after supper with well wishes, Makenna was just thrilled to show off her new home…as was I.

I took the following week off work to unpack and make this place feel like home. Makenna went to school and Jack to daycare as usual, giving me the time to work away at my own pace and really think about where I wanted everything to be. Something I have learned about myself during all of this is how important it is for me to take time for myself. To not feel guilty about sending Jack to daycare while I do stuff at home. I still struggle with the anxiety and overwhelming feelings but when I take the time to be alone with my thoughts, let them in, listen to them, really feel them and work through them on my own, I do better. I am so glad I took the time to set the house up last week and be alone with all I was feeling about coming home, making this a home and returning to the life we had here. I really need to take time for myself. I care enough about myself to do that because I have learned what a benefit it is, and I will not feel guilty about that.

So…here we are… We’re home.

We’re unpacked, the blinds are installed in the windows, the laundry baskets are full…one of the kids has been sick since we moved here…the pager has went off since we’ve moved here…it’s home.

It really, really is.

If I could describe what I am feeling in one word?


I feel at peace here. I feel like its home. I love this place. I love setting it up to reflect who we are and I feel…content.

Which is good…because something else I have learned throughout the last almost eight months, is that I really, really, really hate moving.

So…where does this leave you and I?

I have procrastinated on writing this blog because I don’t know the answer to that question. We’re home now. In so many ways, our story has come to a close. I don’t know how much more there will be to report on a regular basis.

Oh, this isn’t the last you’ll hear from me, but I don’t know how regularly I will post about the tornado. You have followed along as we lost our home and the journey we took in rebuilding it, and ourselves. I chose to let you in because I needed to…not just in hopes that you would “get it”, try to understand and not judge, but also because I needed your support and encouragement. I needed to know we weren’t alone in facing this.

And here we are.


Now, it’s about returning my children’s lives to the closest version of normal I can.

This, where we are now, is permanent. No more boxes. No more moving. This is their home. It’s time for life to return to boring, everyday normal. While this tornado, and the fear of the weather is such a huge part of who we are now, I look forward to getting back to blogging about our regular everyday lives. Funny things the kids say, crafts and recipes we try together, great bargains I find (which I’m really getting obsessed with) and just…who we really are.

On Saturday, I cursed Jeff’s pager when it went off while he was fixing the washing machine. I smiled as I watched him later teaching Jack how to ride his bike on the sidewalk. This morning I felt content as I made one of my most favourite old recipes, my grandma’s macaroni and cheese, in my new kitchen while anticipating the visit with my sister-in-law, niece and nephew. Tonight I smiled at the sight of Makenna snuggled under the covers reading her novel by choice, long before bedtime. Tomorrow, I return to work. Again.

I look around and, like Jack, can hardly believe it.

It’s really happened.

We’re really home.

Don’t forget:  This blog has its own Facebook page!  Click here to get new posts sent directly to your newsfeed!

Written by on April 10, 2012 in Goderich, Goderich Tornado, Opinion - No comments

Leave a Comment

Please note: JavaScript is required to post comments.

About the Author