As you may have heard by now, last Wednesday Alabama was hit with several tornadoes. The area my apartment is in didn’t have any damage, so Thursday morning, I had no idea how bad things were in some places. I got up as usual, got ready, and went on to work. When I arrived at work I found that our phone and internet weren’t working. So, I turned on my cell phone (um, yeah, I don’t leave it on all the time, because it’s rare that anyone calls) and found a message from the boss that we wouldn’t be working that day.
I locked up the office and headed on toward Mom’s. Traffic was backing up big time on the highway, and I noticed that every gas station I passed had people lining up at the pumps. Still clueless as to the extent of the damage, I wondered if everyone had heard of an impending price increase, or something.
When I got to Mom’s place, I saw that she had nine big trees down, but praise the Lord none of them hit anything, except for one that leaned over onto the barn. (If one of the biggest ones had fallen five feet to the right it would’ve crushed our best storage shed.) Also at Mom’s, the power and the phones were out and had been since 4:30 pm the day before. Power was also out in the city of Huntsville: hence gas stations couldn’t pump, so people were scrambling into neighboring areas to buy gas.
The fam visited my apartment for meals from Thursday to Sunday. They tried sleeping over on Friday night, but I don’t think any of us got much sleep. We’re not used to people being in the same room, plus the foam mattress they’d brought to sleep on wasn’t too comfortable.
Saturday morning we all rode over to Mom’s to feed the cats. We planned to work in the yard picking up some of the bed of twigs that had fallen in the storm. When we got to Mom‘s, there were five or six pickup trucks in the drive and 10-15 people standing around! We pulled in and someone in a truck pointed us to Mom’s next door neighbor. They were volunteers there to help clean up and they’d already cut up the tree that had been blocking our driveway, and were asking about cutting up the others. We were like, “Whatever you want to do is fine with us!” (They had been concerned about making tracks in the yard with their tractors.) Those guys stayed about three hours, cutting up the trees and moving the logs into a pile. I helped two ladies drag some of the lighter branches into the piles.
Oh, and one of the guys that was working in the yard said that the tornado destroyed a house and a church that are CLOSE to mom’s place, I mean, maybe as close as 1/4 of a mile! That same tornado left a trail of destruction several miles long and nearly half a mile wide in some places. They say that chunks of several different cities look like war zones. The destruction is so bad in places south of here that even long-time residents of the area can’t recognize what street they’re on! With that in mind, we’re not at all complaining about losing just a few trees and being slightly inconvenienced by the loss of power.
When the workers were done, I was just so awed and grateful that all of those people took their time to come and help us. Some of them worked for our neighbor’s son (he has a construction business), but some of them were just members of a large church from the next county who decided to get together and go out and volunteer to help cleanup. We actually felt kinda bad that they did so much. It would’ve been more than enough if they’d only cleared the trees that affected our drive, and then they could’ve left the ones that were just out in the yard and went on to help somebody that really needed it. Still, every time I think of it, I’m just so thankful, and I’m so proud of the people who share my community. Say what you want about the South: I truly wouldn’t live anywhere else.