Natrona County Family Rides Out Window-shattering Hail Storm
Glass crunched underfoot as Chris and Alyssa Meskel pointed to the shattered windows on the ground and in the gooey mud gathered in front of their single-wide mobile.
Glass was strewn throughout their rental on Ridgeview Drive, four-digit address not visible because only the "4" survived the 45-minute hailstorm that walloped an area along Cole Creek Road northeast of Evansville on Thursday.
Glass invaded every room and even the baby toys, which will need to be replaced for their son, Beau, who just turned one year old, Alyssa said Friday morning.
Outside, Chris peered into the busted remains of the rear view mirror on his recently bought pickup with a hood punctuated with pockmarks with golf-ball size hail.
In the back, the steel door of a shed looked like it had been the victim of some pathetic target shooting.
Thirteen hours earlier, they marveled at the lightning show that danced over Casper before turning in.
They had no warning either from television, the internet, or Natrona County's emergency warning system with a siren only a couple hundreds of yards away, they said.
The rain woke her, Alyssa said.
"I went out to where my husband was and told him that it was going to get bad, and then a few minutes later it got bad," she said.
"I don't do well in situations like this," Alyssa said.
"I had a bit of a panic attack during the whole situation, but my husband's great and he got us to where we needed to be safely," she said.
"I honestly thought we were going to die," Alyssa said. "I thought it was a tornado and in a house like this we don't have a chance."
Chris added, "It was a constant whack, whack, whack."
During the next 30 minutes, those whacks shattered nearly every window on the west and northwest sides of their mobile home.
The storm came from the northwest to the southeast, and came back northwest, Chris said.
He closed the bedroom doors where the glass and shards were flying, pulled a dresser into the hall of the middle of the trailer, ripped the mattress from a futon and pulled it over himself, Alyssa, their one-year-old son, and their Aussie healer Sadie.
The hail blew in through the dining area, the front windows in living area, the baby's room and their bedroom, they said.
"We're safe, though I have a couple of scrapes," Alyssa said.
Some of those scrapes were from a frightened Sadie, she added.
Midway through the storm, Alyssa dialed 911. A Natrona County Sheriff's officer stopped by as did a representative from the Casper office of the Red Cross, which gave them emergency funds and a voucher to stay at a local hotel.
"Thank God for the Red Cross," she said.
They'll stay at the hotel Friday, but don't know where they will go after that, Alyssa said.
After the worst of it, they ran to the nearby house of Linda Worline and sought shelter there, she said.
Worline said she huddled in her bedroom with her 80-pound pit bull and their three cats piled on top of the dog. "My husband slept through it."
The Worlines' pears and apples were scattered on the ground. The little fish pond was destroyed, but the goldfish was saved.
The tomatoes were another story, Worline said. "All my tomatoes look like somebody took an AK-47 to them."
Sandy Widmer, Worline's insurance agent, said her agency alone had received 20 claims from nearby houses before noon.
In retrospect, Chris said the hail storm left him with little respect for nature.
"Nature kicks you in the ass," he said.