Thursday, April 28, 2011, was sunny and gorgeous weather-wise. My parents had power, so we were able to watch the news. Until that point, I hadn’t realized just how bad the devestation was and how blessed we were to have only the damage we did. The EF4/EF5 tornado was obviously not on the ground when it went over our house. Otherwise the house would have been flattened. Unfortunately, it did touch down once it passed our neighborhood. The community of East Limestone was heavily destroyed. My heart also broke to see the destruction in my college town of Tuscaloosa. I lived there for 3.5 years, and I had trouble recognizing the town from the pictures I saw.
We stopped at Lowes for plywood and nails on the way to house to start cleaning up. My little town was swelling with people from Huntsville and other cities. Gas was in high demand, and lines at the gas pumps were 3 hours long in some cases. The ENTIRE Madison county was without power due to damage to TVA. We got to the house, and I began making pictures of the damage. The clean up crew also included my parents, my aunt and uncle, my sister, and my future brother-in-law. I can never thank them enough for what they did for us that day. In just a short time, the yard was cleared of the big pieces of debris. They also helped my next door neighbor and a neighbor on the street behind us. I have such a selfless and awesome family! We went back to my parents house where different family members were coming in and out for hot showers and food. We grilled pork chops and all ate together.
On Friday, dad, Michael, my sister, and I went back to the house so Michael could take pictures of the attic. That’s when we realized that the trusses were cracked – not a good feeling. It looks like the tornado tried it’s hardest to rip the roof right off our house. Friday night, we went to my parent’s church building where people were dropping off supplies. We helped get everything organized for Saturday.
Saturday morning brought another gorgeous day. My sister and her fiance went to the EMA building to register as volunteers. A group from church was planning on handing out lunches to victims and rescue workers. Michael, mom, and I grilled all the hot dogs, stuffed them in buns, and wrapped them up to deliver. The work helped get my mind off of all the crazy emotions and thoughts running through my head. The most heartbreaking part of the day was when we were washing all the kitchen stuff that was found in the rubble of some dear friends’ house. I was again reminded how blessed we were.
Side note: I have to say here how proud I am of Laura and Wes. Their wedding was 2 weeks from that Saturday. Instead of being focused on the wedding, they were driving around in the affected areas putting smiles on people’s faces.
The next few days were much the same. Power finally began to be restored in North Alabama, and I was able to go back to work on Wednesday, May 4. We are still waiting on word as to where to go from here.
Looking back on all this, I still can’t believe that this disaster happened in my hometown – a place that has always seemed safe to me. We have no guarantees in this life, and things can change in a blink of an eye.