The center of Virginia was hit hard last evening by a string of very violent storms. Our Wx radio began sounding the alarm as early as 4 0'clock yesterday, warning of the storms approach from the SW. About 6 O'clock we were were placed into a tornado warning, and I called my wife to look at the bank of black clouds out to the west of us. I soon began. Heavy rain sweep in towards the house. I could hear it approach through the woods behind the house as it rattled the tree branches. I watched as the chickens made a bee line into the chicken house. My wife and I sat in the den watching through the french doors out to the deck and hail began pelting. The hail grew to about nickel size. It covered the deck, the yard, the woods. It piled up against the french doors. I noticed a trickle of water coming from beneath the door. Hail had created a little dam holding a pond of water, which began finding its way inside. I checked the basement and found water there, too. Water in the garage as well. It was raining so hard that the gutters couldn't keep up. Rain water had ponded up against the basement and garage doors, allowing the water to stream in beneath the doors. We "sandbagged" the basement door inside and out. We retrieved a ten foot length of plastic drain pipe and attached it to a down spout to re-direct gushing rain water away from the house. Using a push broom and a square-point shovel, Laurie and I were able to move water away from the doors on the concrete pad and push it off into the yard. I retrieved our big shop vac and configured it for water duty, then began removing the water from the basement. (the basement is where we keep our stores). That done, we checked to make sure that the basements contents were dry and undamaged. We retained electrical power throughout this ordeal, thank God. If we hadn't caught the water in the basement as early as we did and been able to use the shop vac (I do have a genny) it would have been a lot worse inside. The power flickered off momentarily several times around 9 O'clock. Soon after it went off and didn't come back on. Still raining, but now just a steady drizzle. I got a flashlight and retrieved four kerosene lanterns from the basement and sat the around the kitchen and den. Our supper was still in my dutch oven sitting in the stove. Laurie and I had a romantic late supper by lantern light - braised chicken w/rice, sweet peppers, and mushroom soup! SITREP - We now have gravel out all the way to our chicken house where the heavy rain and run-off pushed it from our drive-way. There is a section washed out, leaving a deep rut and more gravel pushed off into the yard. The "ever bearing" strawberries that I planted a week or two ago, and which was doing so well and that I was so proud of, were beat into the ground. Recovery is unlikely, but I am hopeful. During the heaviest of the rain a creek developed across our front yard, rushing down towards the garden. This morning there is a wide, deep, gully through the middle of the garden and garden soil washed out into the field below. I had just recently amended the garden with horse manure and tilled it all in. If it had been dry yesterday morning I would have had carrots and lettuce planted before the storms hit. Our swimming pool is over-flowing this morning. We hadn't opened it up yet, and it still is covered. I'll have to get the pump running today and pump off the excess. The hail stripped all of our dogwoods of their recently emerging blossoms. Our tulips and daffodils fared no better. I noted that during and after the storms I could smell the evergreens... like the smell of a Christmas tree. I guess the hail beat them, too, causing the sweet aromatic scent. It was nice, but not under these circumstances. We have debris covering the deck. Mostly small sticks and oak "tags" - those dangly things some oak trees get this time of year. I imagine our roof and gutters are full, too. I'll need to check the shingles for any damage. This same type debris is all in the yard, up against the rear of the house where the rain washed it, out covering the pool and concrete border... everywhere. Thankfully we never got any high winds yesterday. We caught the invading water early and were able to successfully intervene to avert any damage. LESSONS LEARNED - We didn't have a lot of material destruction. Certainly nothing like our brothers and sisters south and west of us due to the early tornados. Mostly we just have a bit of clean-up. I will re-plant and re-till and move on. I need to have a flashlight in every room, including the bathrooms. I have several flashlights in strategic spots, but moving through the dark from room to room to find them was a pain. I'm getting more flashlights - upstairs and down. Once we lost power, the kerosene lanterns worked OK. But I had to go down in the basement to get them, and the smell of kerosene is not all that pleasant to me. I think I'll investigate two or more hurricane lamps that are decorative enough to leave out all the time, maybe on the fireplace mantle, were they could be accessed quickly. The hurricane lamps give off a lot of light - more than do the lanterns - and could be filled with scented lamp oil. They should look nice enough that my wife can tolerate them being out all the time. In the 22 years we have lived here, we have never had the problem of water getting underneath the doors like we did last night. Bath towels helped a lot in keeping more water from coming in, but maybe I should have a few real sandbags handy just in case this repeats itself. After all, the Wx has gotten pretty screwy, hasn't it? As I was writing this, our WX radio alarmed to let us know we are in a flood watch. The forecast is for more storms today, including high winds, heavy rain, and more hail. I sure hope I won't be sending you another one of these tomorrow morning!