Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Aftermath - Alabama Tornadoes - Part 2

Tornado Warnings are a common occurrence in Alabama this time of year.  Mostly we have a few small tornadoes that affect just one house or street.  Rarely, an entire community will be affected.  With this storm, they were warning us days ahead of time that it could be bad.

Since Criss couldn’t get his truck out of the yard to get to work (see last post), he was home with us.  All of the food in the refrigerator was about to ruin, so Criss started grilling everything he could.  Thankfully, it was time for me to buy groceries, so there wasn’t too much food in there.  At one point, my mom parked down the road with a bag of ice, and Criss walked through a patch of woods to retrieve it from her.  That enabled us to put a few things on ice in a cooler.

Later in the day, the power company and county clean-up crews drove by and merely pushed the downed tree and pole over to the side of the road for everyone to start driving over the lines.  With that, I knew we were not a top priority and we would be without power for a good while.  The problem was the lines were still draped through a tree and blocking us from leaving our house.

If you live in an area prone to tornadoes, they always tell you to go to the center room on the lowest floor of the house.  Since we live in a one level house, the bathroom in the middle of the house is our designated spot.  Depending on the strength of the tornado, the outside walls will go first.  If anything is left, it’s generally the center.  Early in the day, I cleared everything from the bathroom, leaving only the things that were secured to the house so there wouldn’t be anything to fly around and hit us if our house was in the path of the tornadoes.  I also used a child safety lock to secure my purse and other important documents in the bathroom cabinet with us.

There’s a certain feel in the air when tornadoes are coming.  Some of you know what I’m talking about.  You could just feel it.  Scenes from the movie Twister kept playing through my head all day.

We were listening to the radio and sat bewildered as the large tornadoes hit the city of Tuscaloosa.  (We live in Tuscaloosa County, about 30 minutes east of the city.)  Since the power was out, we couldn’t see what was going on, but from the sound of the weather man’s voice, we knew it was really, really bad.  All he kept saying was “All we can do right now is just try to get through this.”  They had numerous visuals of extremely large tornadoes all over the state.  We sat listening as a tornado they were reporting to be ½ to 1 mile wide ravished the heart of the city of Tuscaloosa – and it was headed our way.

As I listened, my eyes roamed the house.  Was there anything else I needed to put in the bathroom?  What would I miss most if our house were destroyed?  My purse and other important documents were moved to the safest spot for convenience, but nothing else in the house really mattered as long as we made it through alive.

It was soon approaching our area, and we all headed to the bathroom.  We put the kids in the bathtub with their bicycle helmets on, and Criss said a prayer.  The kids both sleep on toddler beds, so their mattresses were small enough to fit in there with us.  If we were hit directly, Criss and I were ready to throw the mattresses over the kids in the bathtub and lay on top of them to try to keep them safe.

At this point, there were so many difficult things that raced through my mind.  It’s one thing when you’re worried about your own life.  It’s something far different when you’re trying to protect your young children.

We soon received the call that we were safe to leave the bathroom.  The tornado had passed just to our north.  We had been spared, but so many others that day were not…

To Be Continued


“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
Psalm 46:1-3

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