So…it’s been a while, eh? As much as I wish I could’ve been blogging and updating things over the last 2-3 months, things have just been a bit hectic and I’m just now catching up with life.
As everyone knows, at the end of April, a huge front of tornadoes came through the deep south and wiped out town after town after town. Mine was one of them. I had hardly been home (I moved back in mid-April to my parents’ house in Pleasant Grove, AL) when the storms hit. When we walked outside, it seemed as if nothing had really happened. There was a bit of debris scattered around and the sky was certainly still gloomy overhead, but all-in-all, houses seemed untouched and neighbors seemed to be safe and sound. When we ventured out of our subdivision and drove up ONE street, however, we were hit with the gruesome visual of homes completely flattened, in piles and their owners either burried inside or standing next to the remains sobbing with no idea what to do next. The feeling of that day is nearly indescribable, but to see “home” not look like “home” anymore is a sad, sad thing. We ventured still further away from our subdivision, now a few streets up and there were folks walking and running everywhere – people screaming and crying, asking for help to get friends and family members out of collapsing houses and friends of friends running to hug one another in utter relief to see them alive. One of these friends was Mary Curtis (also my next door neighbor). She ran into some kids she went to high school with and they told her that she needed to come with them to check on another friend of theirs. I went with her, trudging through muddy patches, trampling over toppled fences and into the yard of a woman I’d never met. There stood a family, all huddled together with their hands buried in their hands. Their mother had been impaled by debris in the storms as they had all been piled into their bathtub hoping for some porcelain protection. When the storm passed, the family realized that their mother was not responding to them and they rushed her to this other woman’s house. This woman was a nurse, and took the family in and told them to put their mother on her couch and she would tend to her. However, when we arrived in that yard, not two minutes later, a man came out of the house to alert the family that their mother was gone. She was cold and not breathing and she was gone. I did not know these children or these kind people who had taken care of their mother for those few moments. But I gathered them up and we walked back to Mary’s house to get them into the shower and put food in their bellies. Stunned, they and I and Mary walked the streets to an untouched, wealthy subdivision that shouldn’t have been standing. But it was. And they showered and ate and even laughed a little.
For weeks after the storms, I worked up at my home church doing whatever relief work I could in the midst of orders piling up and a wedding just a month away. I moved my shop 3 times after the storms – from a hotel, to a vacant library office, to my apartment.
It was one of the strangest and most devastating experiences of my life. However, I saw my community and my church and my friends come together in a way that I’ve never seen. I continue to see it when I visit and I wouldn’t trade “where I’m from” for the world. Not ever.
And a video of a sweet man from my church giving a good word for all: