I remember it really clearly. I woke up one morning at 5:30am for work and was there by 6am getting tennis courts ready when my sister called me freaking out “Are You OKAY?” “What’s the deal?” I asked back. “Are you not watching tv?”.. “No?.. I am at work.” “You need to turn on the tv.”
So I did..
My area of Alabama was on the national news as helicopters flew over areas of Tuscaloosa County all the way up to Birmingham. An F5 tornado dropped down in our area during the night. I knew we had a bad storm, but this?..
My buddy Darren came down from Nashville that weekend, Shannon came up from Auburn & we did what we knew to do. We went and volunteered however we could. This was when I had haunting images of tornados capacity embedded in my soul. We went out to an area and from as far as I could see to the left to as far as I could see to the right were wiped clean of any standing structures. No homes, trees down or stripped bare, foundation slabs, crap all over the ground.. People once lived here..
Today, I am unable to concentrate on other things as I am trying to comprehend what all happen to the place I called home for a great part of the decade of the 1990’s. So far, many of my friends still living in Tuscaloosa are accounted for. Still a few waiting to hear from.
As I can tell this tornado started somewhere close to downtown and then moved almost directly down 15th street where you had the likes of Central High School, the bowling alley, the mall, the golf course, and many eateries. Not to mention a huge assortment of apartment buildings & houses were scattered on or nearby 15th street. The tornado seemed to continue all the way up to Birmingham area (some 35-45 minute drive).
As I know Red Cross is accepting donations via text for Alabama tornado relief. Text “REDCROSS” to 90999 for $10 donation.
NOTE: As I do have a youth worker contingent who is probably wanting to help, let me share words from my experience from our Nashville Flood almost one year ago. If you want to come help, just come and help. Don’t lean on people to do logistics for you as a short term mission camp does. Things are way to fluid & the people there have many pressing issues. Don’t try and schedule a mission trip out of this, this week or next. Wait until assessment groups can pull together and put in systems to be available for long term relief. Your hearts are in the right places, but in ways, the structural set up and needs of a youth community arriving (logistics of housing, a ‘what are we going to do’ etc.) on the scene are too much for people affected in the onset.