Last Wednesday, my Sweet Home Alabama was left devastated by tornadoes. Cities were decimated, homes destroyed, and lives taken. To date, there are 245 confirmed deaths with more being reported everyday. In my own tiny "home county" of St. Clair there were fourteen deaths and twelve of those were from the same street.
Wednesday morning, Hubs and I were woken early by Hubs' mom (who is our neighbor) with news that we were about to get some rough weather. I went ahead and dressed for work and Hubs booted up his laptop. We have lived "cable-less" for several years but thanks to streaming internet, our beloved James Spann from Birmingham's ABC 33/40 was live on our screen. Our area was hit pretty rough by straight-line winds and possible tornadic activity. We were lucky. We only lost power. Others in our town lost homes including Hubs' aunt's neighborhood which took a significant blow with trees on houses everywhere. We left for work with the warning from Spann that this was only the beginning.
Boy was he right!
Early that afternoon, I sat at my desk with my student assistant/co-worker and literally watched (again via streaming internet) as a tornado touched down and brought destruction to the city of Cullman. This tornado began on the radar as a little speck of green and grew in no time to be a killer tornado. With that in mind, people began heading home. I went to Hubs' office and watched another meterologist predict what would become of a small cell at the Alabama state line. He told the state to brace itself. Hubs and I made it home and were joined by my in-laws. We waited out the weather with only our tiny radio and iphones (HUGE props to AT&T as Hubs' and I only had brief interruptions of 3G coverage so we were able to keep up with ABC 33/40 streaming). The reports coming out of Tuscaloosa and that part of the state were
While the radio reports were obviously grim, nothing could prepare someone for seeing the pictures coming out of these devastated cities. Entire blocks gone. Resturants, stores, homes. Wood, metal, brick. Nothing could withstand the winds and fierceness of this storm. Feelings of sadness, desperation, and helplessness flooded my body. Seeing pictures left me feeling physically sick. And the worse part...I only saw this footage on the news and through pictures. East of Birmingham, we barely had any limbs down. No damage at all. We were without power from Wednesday until Monday. How could I even complain for a second? My family was all safe and accounted for. My heart is beyond thankful to God for sparing so many of us from tradegy but I desperately seek Him for those in need. My heart is broken for those who lost their homes, for those who have lost loved ones, for those who are still missing loved ones. I cannot begin to imagine their feelings right now. And I wouldn't be so bold to even attempt it. The sheer magnitude of this storm was like nothing anyone had ever seen. People held on to loved ones and stayed in their safe places. But, really no place was safe enough.
The man pictured is a friend and co-worker of my dad. His home sustained a little bit of damage in Pleasant Grove. But, his mother's house (pictured) was completely demolished. He is holding a picture of himself as a child that he found in the rubble. His mother was severly injured after the tornado picked her up (she was in the bathtub...her safeplace) and at some point dropped her about 60 yards away from her home. Her brand new SUV was found several houses down on top of someone's garage. Last I heard (Sunday), she had already been released from University Hospital. Completely amazing.
The President and First Lady visited Tuscaloosa on Friday. Michelle Obama hugs a storm victim. Federal money is good but sometimes a supportive hug can mean more than all the money in the world.
The President walked among the rubble and devastation to meet victims.
A destroyed church in the Tuscaloosa area.
To me the picture above says so much. Although our houses of worship can be broken, our spirits cannot. God is always with us. Someone on Facebook posted a paraphrased version of Isaiah 54:11 - "You are sad and discouraged, tossed around in a storm. But I, the Lord, will rebuild your city." What a beautiful promise! There is a great song performed by Casting Crowns called "Praise You In This Storm" that provided a lot of comfort to me during an especially emotional time last year. This song could not be more perfect for this situation.
But what do we do now?
|Shoal Creek area of St. Clair County.|
The sign reads "Thank you Volunteers."