In just eight minutes, Denair resident Beckee Bailey’s life turned upside down.
“It was just a normal day,” said Bailey. “My younger one and I had just walked into the kitchen to make soup and all of the sudden she’s looking out the window and saying, ‘look there’s a dirt devil.’”
Bailey said that while she was trying to process what her ten-year-old daughter Serenity Bailey meant by her comment, a tornado with winds of 86 miles per hour hit her historical Denair home.
“This huge wall of dirt just came funneling downstairs and blew the door open and blew out the window,” said Beckee Bailey. “It was all surreal.”
As Bailey rushed to get her 10-year-old daughter to safety, her 20-year-old daughter was trapped in her bedroom upstairs. In the moments before the tornado hit, the 20-year-old said that she was sitting on her bed doing homework when she noticed how windy it was outside. She recalled she got up to look outside and could see a huge branch headed directly towards her window.
As Bailey’s daughter began to turn away, the 75-foot eucalyptus tree that used to occupy the side of the house had crashed into her ceiling. The collision had caused her room and door jamb to slant, which left her unable to open the door and escape. She was freed from the room when her younger brother kicked open the door, said Bailey.
When Bailey and her family ran across the street to what they thought would be safety at their neighbor’s house, they finally got a glimpse of the tornado that nearly wiped out their home.
“Only eight minutes had passed from the time my daughter took the video to when we got outside of the house, but it felt like a lifetime,” said Bailey. “Everything was gone in eight minutes.”
Nearly a week later, the eucalyptus tree can still be seen uprooted and wedged into Bailey’s home, which has since been boarded up and deemed uninhabitable. Bailey said that she needs two estimates on removing the tree before insurance will cover it.
“It’s been almost a week and almost all of the other trees in the neighborhood are cleaned up,” said Bailey. “They’ve just boarded up our house.”
“It feels like they are just waiting for the tree to collapse and demolish the house,” said Bailey.
Bailey said that she hopes to have the tree removed soon in order to allow access for her and her family to go in and retrieve their belongings.
“When your house burns up, it burns up and it’s gone and you have no choice but to move on,” said Bailey. “But we’re slowly every day watching this smoldering fire because we don’t know what’s going on and if we are going to be able to get our stuff.”
The tornado that ravaged Denair on Sunday is just one more hardship that Bailey has had to face this year. In April, Bailey said that she took off time from work for what she originally thought was a blood clot in her leg only to find out that she had Pulmonary Embolism.
“I found out that my lungs were just full of blood clots,” said Bailey.
This would not be the last hospital visit for Bailey as she also underwent a blood transfusion for internal bleeding in June and found out she had Triple Negative Breast Cancer in July. She has since begun chemotherapy treatments.
In the days following Sunday’s storm, Bailey said that she has been actively looking for a new home for her and her three children; however, she has not had much luck. During this time, she said that her family has stayed with neighbors and received a complimentary night’s stay from a local motel.
“It’s hard because I’m normally really positive and I know everything is going to work out in the long run, but in the meantime I’m not providing a roof over my kids’ heads,” said Bailey. “It’s really hard to be sick and then knowing that you’re not taking care of your kids.”
Although Bailey was disappointed to report that her endeavor for a new place to live has not been successful, she was happy to say that she has received plenty of community support in the aftermath of the tornado.
The Connecting Point Church of the Nazarene, which is the church that Serenity Bailey attends, and the Salvation Army have both offered to donate clothing to the family, although Bailey said that she has not been able to make it out to the latter due to her time-consuming housing search. Serenity’s Bailey’s fifth grade classmates at Denair Elementary Charter Academy have also made donations to the family.
“This support means everything to us,” said Bailey. “As far as we’re concerned, nobody knows we exist and here are all these people that we don’t know who are pouring out love and their hard earned money for us.”
Bailey said that she has also set up a gofundme page in hopes of raising money for her and her family. As of Friday night, the family is more than halfway towards reaching its $5K goal. Those interested in making a donation can do so by visiting gofundme.com/z5ajbvys.