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Heroes For When Lightning Strikes

Know the warning signs

Know the warning signs

Sometimes I think this world has gone completely mad. You can’t watch TV without seeing horrible atrocities committed by people against other humans. But then in the same newscast there will often be stories about people coming together and doing some wonderful and even sacrificial things to help others, which in turn, proves that this world isn’t all bad and there are heroes everywhere.

It’s similar to what happens when a personal disaster, one that affects only you and your immediate loved ones. In this case I’m not talking about man against man, but nature against human. That’s when you quickly learn who your heroes are.

I thought I was going to die!

I thought I was going to die! It was Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 7:17 am

I heard the rumbles of thunder while I was still in the shower and I hurried to finish, worried that the power might go out before I removed all the shampoo from my hair.  (We live in the country and have to depend on electricity to pump water into the house, no power, no water.) I managed to finish showering and drying my hair before it happened.

The whole place shook and the noise was sharp and deafening and I could smell something burning almost immediately. I had no idea what the lightning struck, but I thought it was the house. I put on a bathrobe, picked up my little dog, Annie, who was as terrified as me and looked out the front door. I could see my car beside the house and from the doorway, it looked like the car’s passenger side was on fire. My heart plummeted a my knees almost buckled.

I knew I had to do something, even if it was to just get out of the house, because if my car was burning, then it would explode and the house would go too. Shaking so bad I could hardly walk, wearing only a bathrobe and no shoes, carrying Annie and my cell phone, I ventured outside, feeling guilty because I was leaving my four cats in the house. 

The tree was split from the ground to almost the top!

The tree was split from the ground to almost the top!

It was apparent right away that lightning had struck the large cottonwood tree on the other side of our driveway. The tree was badly split and still smoldering  in spite of the rain. I made my way behind the car and that’s when I saw the flames coming from the driveway. The ground was on fire. The only source it could be coming from was the propane line that ran from the tank,  in front of the tree and into the house.

My first thought was to move my car away from the fire and I started to go back inside to get my keys. I realized there wasn’t time…I had to shut the propane tank off now.

Only one problem, I had no idea how to do it. My husband always did that sort of thing, but I’ve seen enough explosions on TV to know that if I didn’t, it would probably explode either the furnace or the tank or maybe both and I wouldn’t be able to outrun it. Besides, I would be sentencing the four cats inside to a sure death. I had to do something, even if it was wrong.

I opened the lid on the top of the tank and chose the knob that looked like a shut off valve and twisted. The flame made a sucking noise and went out. I held my breath for a few seconds, praying it hadn’t sucked the flame inside the tank or sent it into the furnace. When nothing happened, this gave me hope that I had done the right thing.

I went inside the house and I could still smell something hot. The smell was stronger now. I had to call 911 in case there was a fire inside the walls.

But there was another problem.

In my own defense, I was home alone, my husband had already left for for his job. I was shaking so badly I could hardly stand and my mind would not focus. I still had enough wits about me to know in an emergency seconds count, so I grabbed my cell phone again, but…

I have to explain that I had just gotten a new smart phone about a month or so before. It was the first of it’s type I had ever owned and I had been slowly learning how to use it.

Well, and I know this is going to make it sound like I’m really just nuts, but I couldn’t remember how to make an outgoing call. I’d only done it once before. Everyone I call are in my contacts and I did remember how to get to them, so I pushed contacts, then favorites and hit the first one at the top.

Again, in my own defense, seconds count in an emergency. I still wasn’t sure the house wasn’t on fire because the smell of something burning had grown stronger. I had read of peoples houses smoldering inside the walls before igniting. I couldn’t take the time to explain what was wrong. So when my daughter, who lives forty-five minutes away, answered the phone, I said, “Jamie, call 911 for me”, and I hung up.

I then called my husband, Pat, he’s programmed too and I told him what had happened and that I had called Jamie to call 911.  He works more than 50 miles away and I was worried he’d drive too fast coming home, but he had to know and I needed him at home.

By now I had calmed enough to remember how to use my cell and I called the power company and they said they would be right out.

Because I didn’t tell Jamie why I needed her to call 911, they sent a deputy sheriff who showed up about ten minutes later. As soon as I saw him, I felt better, I was no longer alone, but then I had to confess why I didn’t make the call myself. He was very nice and understanding. He asked me if I wanted him to look around or he said he could send the fire department. I told him about the fire in the driveway and that I had already put the fire out and he laughed. I really wasn’t trying to be funny, but I do see the irony in it now.

It wasn’t long after the deputy arrived that our long time neighbors and friends (they are both retired) drove in. I hadn’t even thought about calling them, but Pat had. The deputy was just about ready to leave by then and that’s when, Jamie and her husband David arrived and of course Jamie chewed me out about how I called her and then hung up. According to her husband, she was almost in as bad a shape as her mother.

Our son-in-law, David brought us a generator to use until we could get the power back on. It worked great.

We had to replace the breaker box inside the house and many of the outlets, which meant we needed an electrification to replace the box. We contacted several, but they were all to busy and then our son-in-law David said he knew someone and he called him. The guy couldn’t come that day, but promised he would be there the next day and he was. By the end of Thursday, one day after the lightning strike, we had electricity again.

We needed to have the furnace checked out and because of the circumstances of a lightning strike, the guy made a special effort to come out right away. The temps were only in the forties during the day.

He had bad new for us. The furnace was completely ruined. He told us if we wanted to get a second opinion, he didn’t mind and when we declined, he said he could be there the next day with a new one.

Our New Furnace

Our New Furnace

How often do contractors actually show up when they say they’re going to? He was a man of his word! He brought everything needed for the repairs. He even brought a trencher, something he doesn’t normally do, to put in the new propane gas line and regulator to the house. By the end of that day, Thursday, only one day after the strike, we had a new working furnace.

The telephone box outside on the opposite end of the house from the lightning strike.

The telephone box outside on the opposite end of the house from the lightning strike. Pieces of it were found in the middle of the yard.

The phone lines throughout most of the house were also melted, which explains what I had smelled burning. The main line from the basement was melted into the carpet in the living room.

The phone company sent someone that day and the guy went out of his way to fix what he could, even doing a few replacements he wasn’t supposed to do, but by the time he left, we again had a land line that worked, only one day after the lightning strike.

The phone line that was melted to the carpet.

The phone line that was melted to the carpet.

In the basement, besides the furnace, the lightning split the water pipes and Pat replaced the pipes Thursday morning.

Our TV in the living room and the DirecTV receiver, were ruined. The satellite on the roof was fine. We had just gotten a new box about a month before, because our old one had quit working. When I called, I explained to the girl what had happened to the new one and she said we were covered under an act of nature clause, which meant it was replaced for free. We didn’t even have to pay the technician that came and installed it on Friday, two days after the lightning strike.

The lightning also destroyed my computer in my office. I’m posting this from my work computer. The good news…my files were backed up.

The cottonwood tree after the lightning strike, was split almost to the top. It creaked and twisted in the wind. It was another disaster waiting for a strong wind to make it happen. The thing had to come down and soon.

Pat, two of his brothers and a brother-in-law spent the weekend taking it down. Not an easy task with a tree that size, while it loomed over the top of our house, but they managed it.

The offending tree is now gone.

The offending tree is now gone.

It has been almost a month since that day and we are almost completely back to normal. Although I will never hear another rumble of thunder and not think about that day and what might have happened if I had still been in the shower when it struck, I am happy to be alive today.

Someone was watching over me that morning and I feel blessed that so many people went out of their way to help us, going above and beyond of what they had to do. They didn’t risk their lives doing it, but they saved ours and for that they are my heroes.

What kind of personal disasters have you faced? Were there heroes who came to your rescue? Tell me about it.

My Young Adult debut novel is now on Amazon: Amazon.com: Donna Jean McDunn Nightmares: Kindle Store

MuseItUp Publishing’s website Nightmares

 

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The Book Cover For Nightmares!

Emily must accept her gift of clairvoyance and remember her past, when a psychopath returns to kill again.

Emily must accept her gift of clairvoyance and remember her past, when a psychopath returns to kill again.

Yes! It has finally happened. I have a book cover for my very first book Nightmares. The days are finally dwindling and May will be here soon…well, okay it’s really not all that soon, but it’s less than four months away.

It is really strange and maybe it’s because I’m not as observant as some, but the first dozen or more times I looked at this cover, I didn’t realize there was a face of a girl in the top left corner.

My niece, who is a photographer and that’s probably why she saw it almost right away, told me there was a girl there. I still couldn’t really see her, until today, when I posted the cover on here. I fell in love with it all over again. 

I received the acceptance email from MuseItUp Publishing on August 11, 2012 and if the book is published in May 2013 as planned, it will have taken nine months for the whole publishing process. It’s kind of ironic that it takes nine months and now I wonder if the reason it takes that long is because writers always call their work their “baby”.

I’ll be posting an excerpt or two later on when it gets closer to the release date. For now I’m more interested in knowing if anyone else saw the girl in the book cover before it was pointed out to them. I can’t be the only one who didn’t, right? 

As always, I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts, so please leave a comment, especially if you couldn’t see the girl too.

My short story Trapped, included in the anthology Mystery Times Nine 2012 has been released and is available on Amazon.

My young adult paranormal/mystery will be released in May 2013, but can be viewed on MuseItUp Publishing’s website: Nightmares

Other places I can be found:

Facebook Author Page 
Facebook Profile Page 
LinkedIn

MusePub_Readers : MuseItUp Publishing Readers Group

I’m also on Twitter.

Other Places to view my short stories:

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

A Reason To Live

Saving Katie 
Pack Leader 
The Golden Stallion

Gus’ Big Adventure

 

 

Merry Christmas & All Other Holiday Greetings-My Wish For You

Bah Hum Bug

Bah! Hum Bug!

I’m very sorry I haven’t posted recently, but I didn’t want tomorrow to pass by without some kind of greeting, which is why I’m doing it now.

I know many people don’t celebrate Christmas for a lot of different reasons, some are even Christians, but no matter who you are or why you don’t celebrate, my wish for you is to have a safe and happy life, not just on this one day or month or year, but for your life!

There has been so many terrible things happening in the world recently, at least it seems like this year has had tragedy strike more often than normal and on a much larger scale and there is nothing any one of us can do about that.

Yet there are things we can do to make others lives richer and in so doing, make our own richer. Everyday we wake in the morning, we have been given another day that we can make a difference in someone else’s life.

A smile, a kind word or a helping hand, can change peoples hearts to be more tolerant of others and to pass the kindness on to someone else and in doing so, it makes a better world for all.

To many of us become wrapped up into our own little worlds, we forget that other people, whether rich or poor or where we live, we all have our demons to struggle with. Not everyone  may have to worry how they are going to pay their bills, but they still have the same frailties as any other human and bleed just like the rest of us.

I obviously don’t have the answers to the worlds problems, but my wish for everyone is that we all start with ourselves and spread kindness instead of disaster.

As always, I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts, so please leave a comment.

My short story Trapped, included in the anthology Mystery Times Nine 2012 and published by Buddhapuss Ink in New Jersey has been released for purchase on Amazon.

Coming soon to Page & Spine Publishing my short story The Ravine

My young adult paranormal/mystery will be released in May 2013, but can be viewed on MuseItUp Publishing’s website: Nightmares

Other places I can be found:

Facebook Author Page 
Facebook Profile Page 
LinkedIn

MusePub_Readers : MuseItUp Publishing Readers Group

I’m also on Twitter.

Other Places to view my short stories:

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

A Reason To Live

Saving Katie 
Pack Leader 
The Golden Stallion

Gus’ Big Adventure

TRICK OR TREAT

These are five of the grandkids from a few years ago. I don’t have any pictures of me and my brothers dressed up for Halloween from my childhood.

TRICK OR TREAT

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

Happy Halloween!

Everywhere you go today you will see and hear those words “Happy Halloween”, but isn’t Halloween supposed to be scary? I always thought so when I was young, even though I never felt afraid. Excited, yes, maybe a little worried I wouldn’t find the right costume or get a lot of candy, but never scared.

My mom always took my brother, Jerry and me trick or treating. She’d find a block of houses with the lights on and let us out on the corner and watch us as we moved from place to place. Then she would drive down the street real slow, so she could keep us in sight, not that we were ever in any danger in our small town, but my mom was paranoid that way. I didn’t understand it then, not until after I had my own kids.

Do you remember the year you stopped going trick or treating? I do. I was twelve and would be turning thirteen in less than a month. My older brother had stopped going a few years before me, but I had my little brother. He was seven years younger and by the time Jerry decided he was too old to go, Mike or Mikey, as I called him back then, was just getting into it.

Mikey was five when I decided I was too old to dress up and ask for candy, but someone had to go with him and Mom had to drive the car, which left me as his chaperon.  I didn’t mind because at most of those doors, the host would almost always hand me some candy too, which helped to ease the pain a little.

Last Year at my daughter Jamie’s Halloween party. Not a great picture, but it’s the only one I had.

When the teenage years finally came, I had a lot less desire to spend time with my little brother. The year I was fourteen, the holiday fell on a Saturday and spending time with friends became my priority. The temperature had made it into the mid eighties that afternoon, a rare occurrence in the Midwest on Halloween, and it was a very mild evening.

My best friend, Linda and I spent the early part of that night walking around town admiring all the Halloween decorations. Completely by accident (I swear, because my mom would not have approved and she must never know.) we ran into Pat, Linda’s next-door neighbor and his friend, Eddie both boys we went to school with. We ended up sitting in the cemetery telling scary urban legends about ghosts and murder. It was the best time ever, but it had to end by 9:45 so I could meet my mom at Linda’s house at 10:00.

Every Halloween I think about that night. I’m not sure why, but it could have something to do with the fact I started dating one of those boys during the end of my senior year and a year later we were married. We have spent a lot of Halloweens together ever since, but few have ever topped that first one.

What’s Halloween without some Jack-o-lanterns?

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address, I’ll visit and comment. If you’d rather be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I will like, be friends, follow, or Tweet.

November 19, 2012 is the date Mystery Times Nine 2012 will be released for sale on Amazon. The anthology includes my story Trapped and eight other stories of mystery. It can be preordered now. Here’s the link. http://ow.ly/eHycy

I can be found at Twitter as Donna Jean McDunn @02dmcdunn

Author page http://www.facebook.com/donnajeanmcdunn

Profile http://www.facebook.com/mcdunndonnajean

LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/pub/donna-mcdunn/42/819/423