May 8th

I don’t remember much of what happened before 10 a.m. on May 8th of 2009, but I certainly remember what happened after.  My day began as cliché as anyone’s: I awoke and got ready for class, then arrived at my 3rd grade classroom and began learning.  Next thing in my memory, I’m curled in the fetal position, in a dark room, under a table, next to my classmates Timmy and Sydney.  At first, it seemed like any other storm, and we thought the whole situation was blown out of proportion.  I quickly realized I had not given this storm enough proportion because I then heard the wind blow away part of the cafeteria roof.  Meanwhile, my brother and dad were at home because Caleb had stayed home sick, running from the front door to the back door, admiring the shear enormity of the clouds. 

When the winds had died down and the storm moved on to its next victim, western Kentucky, everyone emerged from their holes to find devastation and destruction.  I remember leaving the room that I was shut in, walking in single file back to my classroom, and seeing a bright blue sky.  All I could think about was food, since the storm had disrupted my daily eating schedule.  That’s when Mrs. Haas came around the school with a cart of cereal and milk cartons.  While I was eating, my mom was working on a way to get me out of school, since there were several trees blocking the road to the elementary building.  

Later that day, I took a nap.  I guess the stress of the storm shook me to my core, because I slept for hours.  When I awoke, the sun was starting to set, and we had no electricity.  I went with my dad to IGA to get food and supplies, and the eeriness of IGA when the electricity is gone and you’ve shopping by flashlight still sticks with me.  We got home and took cold showers, then the family went to sleep.

The next day, and subsequent weeks and months following the storm, were mayhem for E.A. Knight Construction.  We hired more employees to help with the massive flood that was all of southern Illinois needing damage repair.  Our phones rang and we scrambled.  Even though the storm was devastating, it kept us in business.

The reason I’m writing about this is because I recently was talking with my dad, Glen Knight, about the 2008 Recession, and if it hurt us any.  He admitted he didn’t know if it did or not, but he was concerned during the winter of 2008 and early 2009 that the company might not last much longer.  This was news to me, which is probably a testament to my parents that I was never aware of these adult concerns at such a young age.  Business was so slow, and the phones hardly rang, that Glen had to lay a few people off and make some significant changes to the business to keep the doors open. 

In some convoluted, crazy way, the May 8th storm kept us open for business and is yet another chapter in the story of our company.  We worked on jobs for the rest of the year that related to the May 8th storm.  Yes, the rest of that year and well into 2010 was spent doing repair work from the storm.  If it wasn’t for the storm, who knows where the business would be now!  Blessings love to come veiled in crummy situations, as much as I hate to admit it. 

Thanks for reading!

Austin Knight