Monday, May 2, 2011

Storm of the Century 2011


It's so good to be back online!

I'm in awe as to all that surrounds me today. Sometimes, I take for granted all that God has blessed me with. Often, I'm reminded how others' situations make me hit my knees to praise and thank God for what He has done in my life.
Aerial View of Downtown's Destruction. This photo was supplied to me by Allison.

All the news media called Wednesday's tornado outbreak “April’s Fury”, but I call it a glimpse of what’s to come. Death and destruction is tainted all over the South. Our fatality is currently at 250 statewide. Out of all the wreckage, there were 2 deaths in the county. An EF-4 tornado, which can produce anywhere from 175-200 mph winds, ravaged our community last Wednesday. I want to thank you for all the prayers for our state. My family and I are all accounted for and doing well. No one was hurt and we are all very thankful to God for sparing our lives. No one had serious property damage. The only inconveniences were the lack of power and phone service for a couple days, which can be easily tolerated after seeing all the destruction on the news and in the newspapers.

June, Pat, KimAnn, mom and dad saw this tornado right out their back windows of the house. Scary huh! This tornado was a multi-vortex that became one big EF-4 tornado that from what I hear ended up being a mile long. This is the tornado that caused all of the destruction in downtown.
Roof tore off of this barn.  Notice the hay stacks are lying neatly in the loft without being touched. 

Damage to family's property.  This beautiful home was surrounded by trees.  Trees that are dound are all found on the ground because it was in the direct path of the storm. 

This homeowner's frontporch roof collapsed 

On the way to my in-laws, we discovered a lot of powerlines down and power polls twisted like pretzels. 
Photo of First Baptist Church in Cullman. The cross ontop of the steeple is bent over.

First and foremost, we will not let Satan get his glory from this tragedy. As Christians, we have all come together to help the needy, nurture the hungry and give an ear to the victims that cried out. There is hope and his name is Jesus. Glory be to God in the highest, peace has been spread across our community and goodwill to all men.

It was reported April 30th that the Hackleburg/Phil Campbell tornado was in fact an EF-5, which is one nasty and angry monster of a tornado with winds at 200+ mph. Several people have told me that they've seen the pictures on TV and the community is basically wiped off the map.  Yesterday, I watched on television a Sunday morning service from the concrete slab that once was Church of God in Phil Campbell.  The camera panned around and there was nothing but rubble surrounding this group of church goers.  The pastor encouraged the attendees to come and knee at the only remaining piece of the original building, a wooden altar.  I was amazed.  Here the walls, pews and podium was gone, but the small wooden altar still stood untouched.  Praise be to God!     

According to reports, Tuscaloosa was the worst hit.  There are still hundreds missing with destruction all around The University of Alabama campus.  On the National news, they showed clips of U of A students staying to help others recover from the storm. 

Doug's uncle and aunt that live in Pleasant Grove probably witnessed the worst of the tornadoes.  Their community was the worst hit in Jefferson County.  I spoke to aunt Vonell Wednesday night to make sure they were alright.  She said that if the tornado had turned just a little bit, they probably would not have been here today.  Their section was spared, but the tornado got the corner of their street.  Of course, they are very upset for their neighbors.  Their neighborhood is on complete shut down until further notice.  This means that they have to have photo ID in order to get in and out.   

Damage from probably the same tornado that ripped through Pleasant Grove.
Damage in Fultondale.  You can see daylight through this Fire Station because the roof was ripped off.

Panic Spreads
Once the Browns’ Ferry Nuclear Power Plant and several steel TVA power stations got hit by tornadoes, our power went out and stayed out for a few days.  Widespread panic hit the northern portion of the state because we were receiving word that it could be anywhere between 5-10 days before the power would be restored.  Millions of people were without power and some people, like us, didn’t have phone service including spotty cell phone service.  Our land line, didn’t work and our cell phone service was sketchy.  There were even rumors that people would be out of water because the pumping station can't keep up with the demand when they have no power.  Of course, several gas stations were without power and therefore could not pump gas without a generator.  Thus, everyone was scurrying around trying to find generators, gas, a grocery stores open to get food and water.  You talk about complete chaos. 
People waiting in line to get gas

State Troopers had to help with traffic at one point

The radio kept everyone abreast on closings, where to find gas, water, food and shelter.  If you were looking for gas and generators, your best bet was looking somewhere South of Cullman at the time.  Fearing the power would not be on for several days, Millard, Doug and I loaded up and headed to Birmingham to the Sunbelt Rentals and rented a 5000 watt (I think) generator.  While we were there, we loaded up with gas for the generator and our vehicle.   

Fortunately, our power and phone service has improved since yesterday.  Several sections of the community are slowly regaining power and phone service.  We had access to a generator to keep our refrigerator and freezer going.  We used our huge cook pot to warm up water on a gas eye to heat up some water for a hot bath.  Once we got our service up and running, I took it upon myself to get to know my neighbors a little better.  We invited them all over to charge up their cell phones, have a warm bath and access to cook their food that was thawing.  We had a good time, sitting around talking and getting to know one another.  At Millard and Peggy’s, Katie made a friend her age very quickly and she had a blast.  Both Katie and Colton had to have an afternoon nap because the fresh air would just wipe them out. 

You'll find more footage from the storms on YouTube.

Remembering When
The media for the past few days has compared Wednesday’s tornado outbreak to April’s 1974 disaster. My sister, Susan, recalled the event to me the other day. I was only 3 months old during the storm of 1974. Susan, at the age of 9, remembered how upset my parents were and the only cover was a storm drain. She said she had never been so scared in her life because she could see the nighttime tornado during the flashes of lightning. Now, our local meteorologists are stating that this year’s event supersedes the 1974 tornado outbreak. I can’t tell you which area was hit the worse because it was all bad. As far as number of deaths, I would have to say Tuscaloosa has a large count. It was weird Wednesday how the evening tornadoes would take the same exact path that the morning tornadoes ripped through. So a lot of the communities that got hit early that morning, more than likely got hit that evening. This didn’t help the situation at all. Tuscaloosa, Cullman and Walker for sure got hit multiple times throughout the day.

I have to write one more paragraph before I end this post.  As I was taking pictures of all the disaster on our way to my in-laws house, a lady came on the radio all upset.  She said that she didn't like the fact that people were driving by and taking pictures of her misfortune.  How she thought it was disrespectful and ashame.  I want to express my sincere sympathy out to all who were affected.  My intentions for taking the photos that I took were to show how my children one day the devastation and to remember.  This week will be marked in the history books and I did not in any way want anyone to feel like I was invading their privacy.  The only time I did not take photos was when I worked in the middle of all the destruction in town.  I felt it wasn't the time nor the place. 

Keep in touch for more photos and my experiences. 

1 comment:

your friends the keyes said...

Wow mirya. I'm glad you and your family are okay and pulling together. Its so good that your letting your light shine and helping neighbors out too. We continue to pray for everyone in alabama.