Pacific Northwest Windstorm Carnage Aftermath on Our Off Grid Homestead

Last night, we nearly had a mental and emotional breakdown. We’ve been working non-stop for the past two months (check out just what all we’ve done in the past month in the Month Two Offgrid Homestead Roundup) and a break is long overdue. Yesterday morning, we woke up to 5” of fresh snow which was exciting, but very muddy if we tried to work in it. We decided to kick our feet up at a coffee shop for the day to work on the blog. When we came home in the evening we came upon a lot of windfall (limbs, boughs and even full trees) on the roads. Once in our driveway we saw our portable RV garage was completely mangled, as well as the deck and platform we built for the RV garage.

How Our Carport Was Obliterated, Mangled, etc.

Our Fun Finder RV has been stored under this portable RV garage for going on 2 months now with few problems. In fact, we’ve been impressed with the carport because we’ve had steady winds several times already this fall. A couple times we’ve had stiff winds reaching 50mph. The garage hasn’t had any damage or budged an inch due to the platform we built for it and secured it to!

However, it appears that we had tornado-like winds pass through our area (and turns out, most of the Pacific Northwest!) while we were away knocking out power, downing trees etc. Our carport was lifted and shoved about 6 feet in every direction (is that even possible?) and it was very vulnerable to being swept away by another huge gust of wind that could have damaged our vehicles or even our trailer. Mind you the foundation blocks, beams, brackets and structure combined weigh nearly 2000 lbs.

Here is what our property looked like before the snow melted and before the wind carnage begun! Just imagine all of this melted snow + an additional solid 1" of rain...
Here is what our property looked like before the snow melted and before the wind carnage begun! Just imagine all of this melted snow + an additional solid 1″ of rain…

Our entire trailer and living space was being pounded with wind and sheets of rain. Not only did the 5” of fresh snow melt completely saturating the ground, but another inch of rain dumped on it in a few hours so our RV was sitting in a soupy mess of mud and pooling water, despite paving our entire driveway and living space with gravel. We had no choice but to roll up our sleeves, use every tool in our homestead tool kit (including sheer strength and adrenaline), fired up our Honda EU3000i Handi portable generator got to work attempting to put it back together. The one 2-ton automotive floor jack we keep in the Subaru was our saving grace. We built a primitive trolley system and were able to lift and move the structure slowly back into place.

We were both wading ankle-deep in mud around the trailer, Jesse was crawling around under the trailer on his stomach, getting covered head to toe in mud, energy was tense and we were arguing with one another, we were long past the point of needing to eat dinner, it was raining sideways with sheets of rain, it was cold, and as my dad would say, our fun meter was pegged!

Here are some photos of the wind storm carnage!

Before. This was also taken before we had the front siding on the carport, so before the storm our trailer was 100% enclosed and the cover was held on with numerous ratchet straps.
Before. This was also taken before we had the front siding on the carport, so before the storm our trailer was 100% enclosed and the cover was held on with numerous ratchet straps.
After! Our 4,000lb floor jack was having a hard time lifting the carport so that we could even wiggle it back into place.
After! Our 4,000lb floor jack was having a hard time lifting the carport so that we could even wiggle it back into place.
Before: Our carport was pushed up flush to both our RV and our cabin add-on. We also added skirting to prevent air leaks.
Before: Our carport was pushed up flush to both our RV and our cabin add-on. We also added skirting to prevent air leaks.
Somehow, our deck was pushed out 4ft from where it was supposed to be. There is no easy way to move it back in pure mud.
After: Somehow, our deck was pushed out 4ft from where it was supposed to be. There is no easy way to move it back in pure mud. Our skirting was also completely gone, found on various hillsides around the property.

The Aftermath of the Winds

When we woke up this morning, we had to get straight to chopping up and bringing home about three cords of firewood. No time to sit, cry or rest! All over the roads were branches, trees and debris. It seems that the entire valley was a wind tunnel throughout the night.

On our property alone, we had at least eight different trees fall down… two on the hillside and two next to or in the road. One of our neighbors had their shed blown over, and another had a tree fall in their car windshield. It wasn’t just us that had problems! The entire valley has been without power and cell service for over 24 hours, so this wind storm was no joke.

This looks pretty innocent (pictures always do), but there were trees like this down all over the neighborhood! There were some LARGE trees that fell.
This looks pretty innocent (pictures always do), but there were trees like this down all over the neighborhood! There were some LARGE trees that fell.

The locals say that this never happens, although there was a severe wind storm last year and even a tornado that touched down in the valley! This is the third wind storm of this intensity in the past 1.5 years. Hopefully this doesn’t become a frequent thing!

Going forward, we do think we need to take severe wind into consideration when it comes to designing our house, property and barndominium. This is one reason why we’re glad this event happened earlier rather than later. Even if it’s a rare occurrence, it does seem that severe winds can be a possibility.

How This Made Us Feel & Why We Are Sharing the Event

We aren’t ones to dwell on negative happenings – they happen to the best of us, it’s part of life, and we simply need to keep our chins held high and move forward. We are sharing this event because this is the reality of starting a homestead 100% from scratch. While anybody could have been damaged from this wind storm, starting a homestead from scratch does make you more vulnerable to weather, exhaustion and mental breakdown which is just the nature of the beast.

As soon as we came home to our carport completely mangled, our hearts sunk and frustration set in immediately. Part of this reason is because at the end of the day, we really only need our basic needs met to be happy (food, shelter and warmth) and we felt we had none of those things. There’s nothing like being kicked when you’re down and having something tragic happen when your energy is already low.

This is one reason why many don’t take the path we have chosen, and probably why many people “give up”. If this becomes a frequent happening, we may look into alternative solutions that don’t leave us so vulnerable to the weather, but for now we’re going to tough it out, take some more precautionary measures to strengthen our home and hope it doesn’t happen again!

Takeaways for New Homesteaders

If you are a new homesteader, or a want-to-be homesteader there are a few big takeaways from this event that we wanted to share:

  • All you can do is plan your best and learn to improvise: As a new homesteader, all you can do is plan and be your best but things won’t go according to plan 100% and you can expect hardship! Learn to improvise as you go… a plan is merely a great place to start but expect to stray from it.
  • You can only be so prepared: There are a million “what ifs” that can happen to you as a new homesteader, or at any point of your life really. All you can do is prepare as best you can, but you can’t necessarily prepare for it all. Just because you can’t possibly prepare for every scenario out there, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take a journey of this type and put your best foot forward. Jesse often says, “Getting out of bed is dangerous!”
  • You will feel vulnerable, because you are: When you first start your homesteading journey, unless you walk into the deal with $500,000, chances are you won’t have everything you need to feel protected. Sacrifices will have to be made. In our case, we simply weren’t able to get a barn up before winter which makes us vulnerable, but we think we can make it through the winter.
  • The path to freedom is not paved with comfort and security: If you are embarking on a homesteading journey to get “free” and achieve some sort of freedom with both your time and your money, then it ain’t gonna be easy! The path to freedom isn’t comfortable or all that secure at first… if it were, everyone would do it and you would have no naysayers (read about well meaning naysayers and fear-mongers to your homesteading journey here)!
  • Look for people to vent to: If you’re feeling emotional, tired, and low on mental energy, a great idea is to reach out to a friend or community that understands. Many people have embarked on this journey before you and understand 100% what you’re going through. They won’t tell you to quit, they probably won’t strictly put fearful ideas into your head, but they will support you and help you get through the tough time, reminding you why you’re on this adventure in the first place. We get a lot of support from our friends here on Pure Living for Life, Facebook page and Instagram. They help keep us going when we’re having a hard time. It means a lot that they support us and every positive comment is much appreciated.

A small fortunate reality of this experience is that our new tiny house style cabin addition didn’t budge through it all. No leaks, no damage and still standing strong. What a relief! Here’s to putting this tiring, frustrating experience behind us so that we can focus on making progress on our property once again!

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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.

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Comments

  1. Adele Stev says

    Hang in there guys you are doing fabulous! Mud bath and all.
    Good insight or learning curve for storm proofing your house.
    This time next year you will either be in your barn or house. : )
    This hiccup is not forever. But its a character building dent in your home to be.
    At least you guys can sing that Frank Sinatra song ‘ I did it my way’…….. even with the limitation of winter upon you.

  2. says

    Oh man!!!!! =( When I scrolled down to your after pictures I had a big frown on my face, how awful! Good for you guys for powering through it to start trying to make things right right away. Have you guys considered building a tiny house/cabin on the property prior to a barn which can one day be converted into guest quarters? It would be much smaller but would be as secure as your addition and likely much warmer.

  3. Anthony says

    Hi,

    Irish guy living in australia to get financially set up to move bak home and set up a little homestead for myself.

    Love your posts, blogs and vids! keep it up…great way of thinking and living!

    Anthony

  4. Lori says

    Thanks for sharing the ups and downs! We all have them and they either make or break you. In your case, i think it is making you into strong resourceful people who don’t look for a government handout every time life throws you sideways! That is independence

  5. Monica says

    Glad you guys withstood the storm! I am in the NE corner of Washington and got to experience it myself. Now it is snowing which I bet you guys are witnessing too. You are doing great! Keep it up. I know you are incredibly busy but there is a book out there called the dirty life which is a woman’s journey of becoming completely self sufficient on a farm with her husband. I found it inspiring and think it parallels what you are doing a bit. If you guys ever need help or just a break I am only a mountain range away. Keep having fun!

  6. says

    I have had several ’50 year windstorms’ in the past decade at my place in Michigan. The first was about 65 or so MPH in straightline winds, from the NW and it bent my 80 hoophouse all to pieces…I repaired it with tie down straps and ratchets hoping to make it thru the winter…

    Not a month went by and from the North came what might have been a small tornado, putting down trees in my little woods and also taking care of the rest of the HH. It was insured so with the settlement I was able to build another one 30×72.

    During the last storm-another once in a lifetimer-I decided to relocate and spend some time planning what to do. I am certain that falling trees and all were just another hazard, however I wanted to insure, best I can, that I would be ready for whatever nature is about to bring next.

    To brighter things!
    I am working now out of a 10×12 barn roofed shed. I have run electricity and internet out to it and have just today finished the insulation in prep for winter work and also to keep the heat off me in the summer to come…

    You two are doing well at not only homesteading but also this blog. Know that there are some of old timers out in the world watching and smiling at all the efforts you make….

    thanks and
    bee well;peace…
    dan

  7. says

    I am glad you guys are safe sound. You guys are doing a great job of working hard and keeping up with all your Homesteading posts. Your determination and hard word is to be admired. I hope that you take some much deserved time to rest. Happy Thanksgiving….. I doubt that you can cook a solar turkey but, turkey sammies sound good!!

  8. Gregory & Karen says

    Ya gotta believe there’s a reason for everything, thank the lord no one was hurt or worse killed. Keep your heads up and git er done, you both still have each other and nothing can spoil that, so one that note hoping your next blog brings better news. You guy’s are awesome and keep the faith.
    karen and greg…

  9. Heather says

    I just came across your blog last night from a link on Mother Earth News and have really been enjoying it. So glad you are both okay but what a disheartening event. We are just north of you in Alberta. Years ago when we lived on an acreage my husband was making a small greenhouse with some clear panels. In a moment the wind grabbed a piece and sent it down a few counties. Weeks later another windstorm brought it back to our place. We also had a “Cover-It” Shelter, like yours, and came home from work one night to see it over in the next farmer’s field. We had not yet had a chance to securely fasten it but once we did everything stayed put. Nothing like 100 kph winds on the bald prairie. One time we were out planting trees in another windstorm and my husband laughed at me because my face was brown with dirt, even in my teeth. I looked like Al Jolson singing “Mammy.”

    You have an excellent attitude so don’t let this discourage you. Love your place and your sweet trailer. I’m also a fan of the tiny house movement and living with must what you need. God Bless you both.
    Heather

  10. says

    Both of you are so tough and Brave. I have always had a dream of homesteading land somewhere but with the price of land in West Yellowstone and the building codes it would be difficult around here. Some people have built small homes over in Island Park, Idaho. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving. I guess it’s hard to be thankful when mother nature unloads on you. However, I will share my life motto with you. Never give up Never surrender Fight on.

    Brad Foss

  11. John says

    Greetings from Canada: As someone who has been at this for some 40+ years, you are doing
    great. Keep going it only gets easier every year.

    Just as a note of precaution if you are using propane inside your portable garage vent your
    furnace and appliances outside , carbon monoxide is deadly , or at least have a good carbon
    monoxide detector. Just a friendly reminder to be safe.
    Keep up the good work on the blog , I totally enjoy it .

  12. Linda Hattaway says

    I empathise with you ! I was living in a bus at the beach and had a tarpaulin over the roof which was becoming the second storey. Along came a storm in the middle of the night and the tarp ended up across the field. The bus was flooded but we made it through the night. I remember so well the feeling of devastation and hopelessness. We evacuated for a few days and came back after the storm to dry everything out. Chin up! Love your blogs, and plough forward on your adventures in life. Bless.

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