Stories from the Storm: Ashley Kirkland

Pregnant at the time the tornadoes hit, Ashley Kirkland is still haunted by the sound of the tornado and hopes her baby boy realizes how blessed they are.


My name is Ashley Kirkland and I'm a Mary Kay consultant and I lived in Alberta City. I remember when the, when the tornado was hitting the sound was probably the thing that is hardest to forget especially at night when you're trying to go to sleep. You could still hear, the sound of the tornado and, the trees falling and, and that's been, probably one of the strongest memories. Right after the tornado hit you know, we all just kind of went into shock for a minute. And we looked out, the back window and all you could see is trees up against the house didn't even have a backyard any more. And then we looked out the front door and the whole neighbourhood was just demolished. Our house was still standing. There was lots of damage, but our house was the only, one of the only houses that, was not demolished. We realized how blessed we were. Knowing that our house was still standing and that we were all still alive. There was no way out of the neighborhood. There, there's no roads that, there was debris everywhere. Probably around ten o'clock that night and it was pitch black, no, lights or anything. The police had to come get us out, and escort us out of the neighborhood. And being 38 weeks pregnant, it was hard to get from one point to the other and we had to walk, probably a mile, to get to where we could, have someone take us to where we needed to go. It wasn't an easy walk. It was walking over houses and debris. Trees, power poles, cars. You're having to climb over all of that. Since the tornado I have dealt with anxiety and a fear of tornadoes. Just even when it's a clear day, I'm afraid that a tornado is gonna drop out of the sky. And at night when you lay down and try to go to sleep, it's like you begin reliving it. You can hear the tornado, the sound of it. It, it's, it's been a lot all at once and, and my husband started a new job and. So everything just all at one time, all these big things, our house and then having a baby. It's been hard to, comprehend everything at one time. But, things now are, are setting down. Since my son was born two weeks after the tornado we've got A good story to tell him. And I just pray that he never has to experience something like this again, but he's already been through so much before he was even born. And he doesn't even, he doesn't even know it and just to. Have the story to tell him. I hope he one day will understand just how blessed that we all are just to have our family still together. And, and to appreciate the things in life. Like and the small things, the builder appreciated the small things. [BLANK_AUDIO]. I did have some emotional. Right aftrer I had the baby, I had, again, this fear. That something was gonna happen. How am I gona protect the baby now? And, and, but, I am doing better, and it's taken, two months. But I finally, I'm doing better, and I'm able to. Enjoy just being a mom, and I'm loving it. [LAUGH] And, and I was having, contractions earlier, but once, the tornado hit and we were actually walking over all that, the contractions went away, and I guess the shock, kinda did that. Just everything is kind of came to a standstill for me. Friends and family and even strangers coming together and helping us, and it's, it's just amazing to me that people that you don't even know would just come to. Do whatever they can for you and, and to see things outside, trees that I, I climbed in when I was little. To see those gone and just, it feels like your whole childhood was kind of taken away in, in some sense. It memories that you had. That's all you have now are the memories. And and so, for me it's very it's, I'm excited that we're you know, we're gonna, things in our life are moving on. We're gonna be getting a, a new house. But it's bittersweet that the house that I've always lived in, that I didn't realize the day of the tornado, before it hit, I didn't realize that was the last day I would ever be living in that house. We looked over and my next-door neighbor's house was completely demolished. We didn't know if they were home or not. So my husband, ran over to the house to and started hollering for them. Just trying to see if anybody was home. And then we found out they were not home at the time. So, but just everything else was just destroyed. And we were just, everybody was just standing around in shock. Even though it was not destroyed, it's not livable. And so, it's gonna be a while before it's, able to be lived in again. And, just the area over there, just all the houses being demolished, just having a baby over there. The doctor told us that the air quality is not safe to have a baby and, and I have severe asthma. So it's not safe for me to stay over there either. Especially since they began buldozing. And now when I'm out and the, the sky starts clouding up a little bit, I have to get home and it's just, it's put a fear in me where I've never had a fear before. And, just crying spells. I've never been one to cry and I don't know if being pregnant, the hormones has just made me extra emotional, but even after I had the baby, just crying spells. Just you begin to think about. And just driving down the road you see, you see destruction, you see debris. And it just makes you cry. The house that we lived in at the time that was hit, I have lived in that house all my life. I was 38 weeks pregnant. And, I was actually having contractions earlier that day. I was 38 weeks when the tornado hit, and I had him when I was 40 weeks, so two weeks and one day. Yeah, two weeks and one day he was born. What was that experience like? well, I heard that, that day it was supposed to be bad weather. That whole weekend it was supposed to be bad weather. And so I was getting very, nervous about that. And so my doctor said, well, we'll go ahead and induce you, before the weekend, and. and, it was kind of another experience where I was just kind of in shock [LAUGH] and but it was, it was really special, and I had my family there, and. Oh, and my husband was really good. And and, then, the weather did get bad. I think they said at one point when I was, while I was pushing. But I didn't even notice. [LAUGH] And but yeah, it was just, it was really. A neat experience. The part that actually had the bad damage was the roof. The whole ceiling was kinda pulled up a little bit, and the the roof had holes in it. The, the side of the house where the wood part is there's boxes that had been sucked out of the attic. And so there were holes in the side of the house, the carport and our porch, all of the columns had been sucked out and, somehow, the carport was still standing without columns on one side and our cars were all destroyed and, The, the roof had lams just sticking in it like a dartboard, and the, all of our windows were busted out. The back of the house, there was a, a huge tree. That was uprooted. It was laying up against the house. If it had have landed on the house, it would've crushed the whole house. But it just so happened it landed right up against the house. So just the, just part of the back of the house, part of the roof was, messed up. And the, where the tree had hit. It's amazing how cuz you can do with so little, we've had to just leave all of our belongings at the house and just, we've boxed things up and covered things with tarps, and we're. We moved all of the baby's things to my mom's house so we have all the things for him but just, my husband and I have, pretty much had our suitcases, and it's just amazing how you can do with such little, and just seeing the community, and while, while we were in the hospital. We even had someone that we didn't know. They had just heard about us having, that what we had been through, and that we were there having a baby. And she brought us a bag and a box of just all kinds of baby, baby things. Diapers, clothes and it's just really taught me that, That just giving. People are just so giving, and that I just want to be able to give back and help other people out that, maybe have gone through similar things or, you know, just losing, people losing things, losing everything that they have. I just want to give. And so is really top main to appreciate the things that we do have, and, and I want to be there for other people help people out, the way we've been helped out. It was around 10 oclock that night when the police. We're going through the neighborhood looking for survivors. And we were inside the house. And there was no way out of the neighborhood. And we heard voices outside. And so, it was pitch black, no light. the, and my Mom. Mom and my husband and my stepdad looked outside, and saw the policeman going from. House to house, all you could see was their flashlights. And, and, they, they, my, my mom told the policemen that I was inside. I was 38 weeks pregnant, and they said they needed to get me out as soon as possible, because if I were to go into labour, there was no way I could get to a hospital. And so, we, I grabbed my hospital bag and I also have three cats. So we grabbed our cats. And we started to leave our house and we had the policeman's flash light that was the only light that we could see the ground and. The the roads were covered in debris, and it, it was about, probably about half a mile that we had to walk. But it was actually a little longer, because we had to walk, it was not a straight shot to. Be able to get to where we needed to be to have someone to get us somewhere. Hold on let me, let me do that again. The roads recovered in debris and houses, cars trees, and power polls, so to get, to, we had to walk to Rite Aid, that's where the police were escorting us to. That's the only place that they were able to get people to shelters and wherever they needed to go. We had to walk and pretty much climb over, houses. Rubble and there was even a washing machine that was crushed, we walked over. And being 38 weeks pregnant, they were very cautious of me. Getting me to stop every few minutes so I could make sure that. Well, I wasn't getting too tired and I was having contractions earlier that day. But, after the tornado they just kind of came to a stop. And so, we were afraid while we were making our way to Rite Aid, walking over all the rubble, we were afraid that I was gonna have the baby right there, but. Cuz it was such a, strenuous walk to get to Rite Aid, and it was, it was like something you would see in a movie. It was, it didn't even seem real. Just looking around, you, you could see. Just houses crumbled, houses that you drive by every single day, you see the people, you see, you know, they're in, in your neighborhood and then to walk through that for the first time and to see everything just crumbled to the ground and you could hear people in the distance. And just, people that were just, you can hear fear in their voices, confusion and that was a hard moment, just walking through all that. It, I can remember it but it does, looking back on it, it doesn't seem real. It doesn't seem like that actually happened, it is like something in a movie.
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