During a time when there’s hardly anything to laugh about, the big joke in the Burhoe family this week has been that they are at least “Ravens Strong.”
In Chicago, last Sunday’s game between the Ravens and Bears was temporarily suspended two hours due to the storms. About 150 miles south in Washington, Ill., hell was breaking loose.
The Burhoes are one of about 400 families that lost their home during the tornadoes. They were lucky enough to escape any bodily harm (there are six confirmed deaths), but their house is obliterated.
The Burhoes are massive Ravens fans. Mike is from Silver Spring, Md., and Suzanne attended the University of Maryland. They lived in Columbia, Md., until Mike, an engineer for Caterpillar, was transferred to Illinois about eight years ago. They have two sons, Blake (8) and Brock (6).
“Our world is Ravens, even here in Illinois,” Suzanne said.
The family would usually be watching the Ravens play, but not on this day.
At 11 a.m. on Nov. 17, the Burhoes got home from church with emergency sirens blaring. The sirens stopped for a minute and they went outside to check out the storm. The sky was green.
“We weren’t outside for more than 30 seconds and we saw the tornado coming at us,” Suzanne said.
The family ran into the basement and stood in the shower. The lights went out within a minute. They could hear pipes bursting and water came shooting out of the faucets. Their ears popped from the pressure. They heard their house crash down above them.
It was all over in a matter of minutes, and they made their way to the bottom of the basement steps.
“I looked up and all you could see was clouds,” Suzanne said. “It’s the scariest feeling ever.”
Thankfully, everyone in the family was safe. Their house, however, was in tatters – except for one wall.
In Blake’s bedroom there is one wall with a giant Ravens birdie head painted on it.
“That’s the only wall standing in my house,” Suzanne said. “We’re Ravens strong.”
There was also a Ravens flag in the yard that was incredibly still there, torn and tattered.
The Burhoes are currently sleeping on the floor at a friend’s house as they have had trouble finding temporary housing. Insurance money will re-build their house (eventually), but these are tough times.
They’ve stayed in Washington because, as Suzanne said, “We have to be able to help everyone that has been so kind to help us.” Mike is also a volunteer firefighter, and he hasn’t stopped helping others since the storm. He jumped into action immediately.
Head Coach John Harbaugh showed the picture of the Burhoes’ house to the team in a Wednesday morning meeting. During a challenging season, it’s a great metaphor.
“It was a metaphor for standing tall through adversity,” Harbaugh said. “Whether it’s football or life, it’s a metaphor. A picture is worth 1,000 words.”
That’s the same attitude the Burhoes have too.
“We’re here and we won’t give up,” Suzanne said.