Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One Week Ago...

Alabama suffered the worst Natural Disaster in our history.
It began at 4:08 AM.
We awoke to our weather alarm informing us there
was a Tornado Warning for
Limestone County.
Those words always make me nervous.
We scooped up the boys and took them downstairs
to the basement and turned on the TV to see
what was heading our way.
After the storm blew by, we were able
to get a few more minutes of sleep before time for school.

Scott was home.
He usually leaves for work around 6:30 in the morning
and is long gone by the time we are getting ready for school.
That morning he had gone downstairs to our
storm shelter to get a bottle of water...
and stepped in water!
He decided he would take Austin to school
and then run by Lowe's and pick up
some items to fix our problem.
Austin went to school just like any other day...
but by 9:45 calls were being made,
e-mail alerts were going out...
School was dismissing early...
Pick up your children by 10:30!

Some schools have weather days for snow...
we have weather days for tornadoes!

What we didn't realize at the time was
how bad this was going to be.

Our local Meteorologists tend to get a little
high strung during our
"tornado season"
and they had been talking about this
for days...

We have one weather man that I CAN NOT listen to.
He really gets excited about tornado's and makes me
an absolute wreck to listen to him...
so we were watching my calm weather man...
who was not calm...

and this is why....

A friend of mine posted this photo on Facebook.
It was taken by a man named Russell Johnson.
This was taken from the Publix parking lot about a 1/2 mile North from my house.
I am due south of this photo...
this tornado was about another mile down the road from me.
It had been on the ground from then western side of the state,
and would continue on it's northwest track until it left
Alabama and traveled into southern Tennessee.

Later reports of damage estimates
said this was an EF-5 tornado
with winds from 175 to excess of 210 miles per hour.
It was 1 1/4 miles wide and
stayed on the ground for 135 miles.
Devastating everything in it's path.

Large solid brick homes were leveled to the foundations
and wood frame homes did not stand a chance.

The total count of lives lost stands around 250,
but there are many still missing...

This is a map of North Alabama and a
documentation of the number of reported tornado's
on last Wednesday...
you can not even see the top of the state.
One report I heard said there were
227 reported tornadoes
and 20 confirmed, on the ground,
long term tornadoes.

As soon as the storms rolled through,
most of North Alabama lost power.
All 8 major lines that bring power
from TVA were destroyed in the storm.
At one time, there were one million
people in North Alabama without power.
The power was out for the majority of the area
for five days...
You could go to sleep from the hum of generators
 in our neighborhood.

Most of the power has been restored,
but there are some in Huntsville that still do not.

Photo from the Decatur Daily

This is another photo of the same storm taken as it
came across Highway 31 and heading towards Interstate 65.

There are so many families who have lost their homes
in our area, everything they owned and worked for
was literally scattered in the wind.

We have two from our church family that
lost their homes...but thankfully have their lives.
One of them was not home at the time,
but one dear lady held on to her toilet and rode out the storm...
and literally rode it into her front yard!
She was found holding on to that toilet!
In her front yard!
The pair of shoes she was wearing were no longer on her feet
but another pair was sitting beside her
as if someone laid them there.
She had many cuts and bruises and
had to get several stitches in her hand,
but she is alive and well.
Her house is a complete loss.

The scary thing about last Wednesday was
the tornadoes were everywhere!
A total of 91 warnings went out
over the National Weather Alert system in
North Alabama.
As soon as one would go by,
another one was following behind!

Another large tornado struck one of
our largest college towns in Central Alabama.
Tuscaloosa, Alabama was the site of another
large EF-4 Tornado that stayed on the ground
for 80 miles and traveled into Birmingham, Alabama.
Many college students we studying for exams.
Cramming in the last hours before
coming home for the summer.
Many of them will not be coming home.

One of those has ties close to home.
A sweet young lady I have known since
she was small could not get in touch with her boyfriend
after the storms ripped through apartment buildings
in Tuscaloosa.
He was found on Sunday.
His memorial was last night in Tuscaloosa
and then his sweet parents will have
to take him home for burial.

So many stories of loss,
but at times like these we have to
most of all be thankful...
thankful for what we have,
even it is only memories.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let you requests be made know to God;
and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6,7

I have lived in North Alabama all of my life.
The threat of Tornadoes has always been
a reality living in this area.
It is why we built the house we did.
We planned ahead and incorporated a storm shelter
in our basement for times like this.
You always think you are prepared to weather
the storms, but we were not prepared for
five days without power.

So, as we reflect on the recent events,
I am also going to start making a list.
A list of "emergency items"
like batteries and unscented candles...
 and matches!
I also am going to try to make an
inventory of our house for insurance purposes.
Could you list the contents of your house?
I know I couldn't...
which is what many people are having to do.

I would imagine when the only thing left of your house,
is the concrete slab that was your garage...
the only thing I would remember that was missing
would be the car.

So today as the sun is shining,
I am thankful that my family is close...
I'll hold them a little tighter and thank
the Lord for keeping us safe through the storm...
and pray for the families who have lost so much.

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