Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sometimes there are no words

Several times, I have attempted to join my fellow Alabama bloggers (Rachel @ Grasping for Objectivity, Amanda @ Bitten by the Disney Bug among others).  I could never seem to get the correct words down.  Nothing seemed fitting for such a tremendous tradegy.  I still can't fully express the magnatitude of what happened. 

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 bad  horrible indescribable.  This monster storm continued North hitting cities such as Corner, Pleasant Grove, Pratt City, and Fultondale, among MANY others. 

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. 

I was sure by now,God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away


I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

But what do we do now? 
Shoal Creek area of St. Clair County.
The sign reads "Thank you Volunteers."

Now we help our neighbors up, dust them off, and rebuild.  Thousands are helping by volunteering with shelters, food preparation, cleanup.  But even if you can't physically help, there are plenty of other ways to contribute.  There is a desperate need for supplies, food, and monetary donations.  Here is a brief list:

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you
-Lynyrd Skynrd.  "Sweet Home Alabama"

1 comment:

  1. Great post! The silver lining has definitely been seeing the whole state step up to the challenge of offering hope and rebuilding. Thanks for sharing!