May 25th, 2011. A tornado struck Bloomington and my business was hit and suffered major damage. This happened right in the middle of my eight week shipping window and I was without electricity, Internet access and telephone service for several days. When I look back on that period, I am amazed and proud that we were still able to ship plants out that Sunday. My partner Terry worked round the clock to clear a path for the Fed Ex trucks to be able to pick up the plants, and even to carve out space for me to enter and exit my residence. It was a difficult time of sleepless nights, disinterest from my home insurance agent, heat stroke collapse and a hurried check of the lost inventory. I keep very detailed records but when plants are blown out of your greenhouse and your office is full of debris, all that becomes moot. Somehow we were able to get through it all. Even now, all these months later, jaws drop when visitors exit their vehicles and look around.
We have been working on the cleanup with the help of family and friends and that will continue for many months to come. Many future plans have been put on hold as we rebuild, repair and continue the cleanup. I won't lack for firewood and Terry plans to make furniture from some of the massive oak, walnut and cherry trees that were uprooted.
As I sat in my windowless interior basement room that I had always jokingly called the tornado room, I listened to the sounds of the destruction outside and wondered what would greet me when I emerged. I did send out a plea to spare my my own personal Svalsbard----my seed bank refrigerator. It was undamaged, thank you chile gods. Thank you to the man who built this sturdy house with that tornado room. Thank you Terry for building the second animal shelter just two days prior to the tornado and moving the sheep and llama in there. They were all unhurt. The chickens were not so lucky, but overall, we all were. I may have lost some plants, but I did not lose everything and I am alive and well and eager to continue growing more and more varieties of chiles.
May we all have have a safe and productive growing season.
The Chile Woman
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