Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces

The Convoy
On our way home from picking up the generators that we rented, we began traveling along side a convoy of utility trucks. The side of their trucks read: "Blue Ridge Electric Company Emergency Reponse Team" from South Carolina. If you want to get into an emotional rollercoaster, pass several of these vehicles on your way home where you have no power and nature has spread her rage across your hometown. During this whole time, I think I've kept pretty level headed and in shock up until that point. I was happy, relieved and feeling very humbled when I saw them.  I got choked up and I couldn't stop the tears from falling.  I couldn't control myself, all I could do was wave and mouth "thank you".   When one driver nodded as in "you're welcome", here come the tears again.  It was an emotional moment in my life.  The convoy followed us all the way to our exit and followed us as far as our street.

Ground Zero
Friday was the first time; I got the chance to see just a glimpse of what destruction was left behind. Doug and I were humbled and in awe. In our discussion, we talked about “The Last Days” that the bible teaches us. I’m so thankful I won’t know what it will be like during the Armageddon. Just reflect for a second on the last days of the world’s existence. No power, no phone service, cars and airplanes either crashed or in the middle of the road without anyone inside of them. Rotting meat from people’s houses, thieves and murderers will roam the streets, while looters will do anything for their next meal. FRIGHTENING, FRIGHTENING thought. I hope this example will wake people up and let them see what it will look like when the church will be up in heaven with Jesus. I don’t want anyone to go through this HELL.

The media interviewed a lady, living not far from here, about what she felt during the event, how scared she was and if she thought she would ever make it through the storm alive. I applaud this lady for speaking the truth. She answered their questions with class and honesty. The last question about if she thought she would ever make it out alive, she simply took a breath and said “you know, I figured if God was ready for me, He would have taking me on. I’m here though, so my time’s not up and I still have a purpose to fulfill.” Hey, it’s the truth y’all.

Rumors are already started about why our state got hit so hard with tornadoes. Of course, the first one is that it’s God telling us that we need to straighten up and fly right. That God is punishing us because a couple of the cities turned wet or voted to have alcohol sales. Now, I don’t believe God punishes those for the wrong choices. I do believe that He has to mold us in the figures that He has to in order for us to be more like him, even if it hurts like heck. God is good and doesn’t bring destruction; however, he does allow it to happen from the devil. Whether its to help us grow spiritually, to balance out life or to create new (new homes, development, new life, etc.) to the greater good. We never know what His reasoning is, but He is our Heavenly Father and Father knows best. I trust Him and know by faith that he will take care of me and my family.

Tractor Trailers drove up to different stores like this CVS with loads of ice, water and other supplies for the victims.

It didn't take long before the whole community came together and just held each other.  Sunday night, Mayor Townson encouraged everyone to come together in the community for a "Faith Rally" at the fairgrounds.  Casting Crown was so gracious to make time in their busy schedule to put on a concert during the rally. 

We came across this shop in the West Point area - looks like a bomb went off from the inside. 

Clean Up!
Saturday, Susan and I drove to the Command Post at the high school, to volunteer for clean up.  We hated that it took so long before the City Police would accept volunteers to help clean up the worst hit areas.  June explained that it was because there was a wide range to be assessed and make sure it was safe enough to get back in there to clean up.  The City Police Department and United Way received so many donations that they had to stop receiving clothing because they ran out of storage space for all the donations.  Their main needs right now are baby items (diapers, formula, wipes, etc.) and personal hygiene items (deodorant, soap, shampoo, etc.).   Susan and I went through our orientation, got our wrist bands, sack of water and sunscreen and got on the bus, headed to ground zero.  We were advised that the area we were headed was currently under Marshall Law and the National Guardsmen were instructed to shoot to kill, if they see anyone looting.  Yikes! 
I want to tell you first hand, it was heart wrenching to see what a tornado can do.  I’ve seen coverage on television, read about it in papers, heard the horrifying stories, but never in my worst dreams thought it would happen to my community and neighborhood.  I became disoriented as to where I was in the middle of the 3rd street looking down the road of rubble, twisted metal, old large oaks uprooted resting in the middle of once was someone’s Living Room or Bedroom.  One person’s home was picked up by the tornado, turned to a different direction and sat back down.  We were able to work on four houses.  Our main objective was to clear a path for the homeowners to get out of their home or easy access for a moving truck to pack up all of their belongings to be moved out of their homes.  All the volunteers had to work as fast as possible because the rain would be here by Monday (yesterday). It was so hot that day with the temps in the upper 80's, but God gave us a cool breeze.   

The first house our group worked on had a boat trailer, turned upside down, resting on top of the resident’s  Jeep.  The Jeep was beat up pretty bad and all of the windows had been blown out, but it started up right off the bat.  Once we lifted the trailer, moved the Jeep, we were able to flip the trailer over and the men pulled it out of the way.  Another historic two-story home had all of its vinyl siding pilled off and all the shingles were missing.  Of course, all the windows were gone and there wasn’t the first old oak standing.  The trees had entrapped the entrance into the home.  We had to clear a path, so a moving truck could get this family loaded and sent to another location.  Susan said it first, this house looked like something off the movie “Twister”.   We were talking about the house with a few of our team members.  One of the members was a contractor and he said that eventhough the house looked awful, it could easily be fixed because it is an older home and kept up.  The structure itself was in good standing.  There were foundations with no buildings. 

We absolutely loved seeing the church organizers coming up and down the street, offering food and COLD water.  They were a God send, helping us to cool off and feed our hunger. 
Today, Millard and Peggy said that they were able to drive along one street over that once was closed because of all damage.  They had the chance to see the vacant lots that once stood 2 story buildings, including the "Busy Bee".  By the way, the "Busy Bee Cafe" owner passed away due to the injuries she sustained from the storm.  Rumors are flying that the cafe will be rebuilt. 

I believe 80% of the town's power has been restored; therefore, the city is still under curfew.  If you need something at Walmart, gas or what have you, you had better make sure you get it before dusk.

Before and After Photos


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