On April 27, 2011, multiple tornadoes ripped through my beloved state of Alabama, leaving thousands homeless and hundreds dead or missing. It started for us at about five am Wednesday morning when I woke up to green lightning and the sound of screeching metal as the wind tried to rip the storm door from its frame. We found our way down to the basement in the dark because the power went out.
For some stupid reason I’m sure I’ll never know, our schools weren’t called off or even delayed. That meant I had to drive a bus load of somebody else’s children around downed trees and power lines and deliver them to a school which may not have had any electricity. I was over an hour late and didn’t even get back to my parking spot when I had to turn around and go back to pick them up for early dismissal.
Wednesday evening the power was still out but we had cranked up the generator and it was running the fridge, freezer, a few lights and a fan in our house and our next door neighbor’s. The cable was out so we had to listen to the coverage on the radio. I didn’t sound like it was going to come our way but I was worried about my kids. It didn’t hit them, though it came close.
On Sunday, my husband found a church in Hueytown that needed donations of baby items so I went to Costco and loaded up the back of my Explorer. There were a lot of folks there doing the same thing.
We beat a path to the Crossroads Baptist Church on Dee Hendrix Drive in Hueytown. As we backed into a parking place next to a pickup truck with a trailer full of coolers and plastic chairs that were being unloaded, a man and woman came out to help us unload. They were excited to find “orange Similac” since somebody said they needed that kind specifically.
Jay Jacks, the principal of Pleasant Grove Elementary invited us into the fellowship hall and I was stunned at the amount of stuff there! Items were stacked around the edge of the room and piled on tables in the middle. He took us into the “Teen Room” where more items had been bagged, tagged and stacked in organized piles on one end of the room. Even though his house in Pleasant Grove had been damaged he was at the church helping organize and distribute the donations.
Before the tornado was even out of the state a small army of men and women with four-wheelers, pickup trucks and chainsaws were in the worst damaged areas ready to do whatever was needed to help victims.
We in Alabama are a resilient people and we take care of our own.