For those of you who don't know, I live in Alabama - where we've suffered some huge losses this week in the 168 tornados that passed through. I was more blessed than I deserve when I walked outside after a day filled with sirens, loss of power, and strong winds to find my apartment and surrounding area practically unscathed.
Wednesday was a very nerve-wracking day. I awoke to the sounds of sirens, thunder, and heavy wind and rain at 6:30 in the morning. It was so strong that I got out of bed and headed downstairs to the center bathroom. I grabbed a half bottle of water, a banana, my cell phone, and my camera. I sat in the shower, trying to get ahold of my husband (who was at work an hour away, working night shift) while my phone kept failing when everything went black. The walls were shaking with the thunder and I was honestly scared. I can't imagine how much worse it would be to be in the direct path of the tornado.
For the next two hours I tried over and over to get ahold of Wade. He was driving home from work and I was so worried about him because I had learned from my phone that there were storms everywhere. He never answered. It turns out, of all days, he forgot his phone at work. I could have killed him.
Btw, I'm so thankful for my droid. I had no radio, tv, power, etc. but I had my phone and was able to keep up with what was happening outside with facebook and the local news websites.
The day continued with tornado warnings, friends posted pictures of the tornados right outside their door, and I spent the day worrying if I should wake Wade and hide in the bathroom again. I was so sick with worry that I felt physically ill. I've never been through a tornado before. I'm from Florida, we don't have tornados! Just hurricanes, which aren't any better, but Jacksonville was a pretty safe place.
The last tornado passed through at about 9:30 that night. We were without power most of the day.
This is a tree on our land where we will be building our home.
As we surveyed damage, the most I found around home was fallen trees and power poles. Some had fallen on houses and trailers. Over 300,000 people were without power. That means no way to keep food cold, no way to cook, no hot showers.
It was truely amazing to see how the community came together. Thursday and Friday, our church set about to serve. We had groups feeding all day long with the gas grill and fryer we had, groups out doing chainsaw work in two cities, groups working with Red Cross, and groups delivering food. The power companies were busy replacing polls, and the radio broadcasters were announcing all of the places to seek help. It was inspiring. Not only was I able to help my friends serve our community, but they served me as well. If it weren't for all of the generous people donating food and time to cook, I wouldn't have had hot meals for the first two days.
We were out of hot water by Thursday, and we got creative by heating water in a pot on our gas grill to take "bucket showers" which we learned to do in Mexico! And I've eaten more hotdogs on the grill than I can count!
For the first few days, gas was scarce. I was unable to travel far because we only had one car with gas. Finally, gas was made more available on Saturday and I was able to fill up our second car.
Today I ventured out of town, about 30 miles away, to help with a chainsaw crew in Arab, AL.
This was on my drive.
This is one of the feeding stations we had set up.
I visited a mobile home community that was completely wiped out. Every trailer was damaged or completely gone, yet miraculously no one died.
Here you can see where one of the trailers once stood and all of the pieces it has become.
While we were traveling, we passed a trailer with a tree straight through it. The family was just sitting in the yard. We stopped to see if we could help. They laughed thinking it was hopeless, but praise Jesus we had the equiptment needed to remove the tree.
We learned that the grandmother of the family had been home alone during the tornados. This tree landed directly next to her. The roof broke over her head, and she lived. Amazing.
We received power again this afternoon - 5 days after the deadly tornados.
As I worshipped with my brothers and sisters this morning, we sang these words:
"God our hope and our salvation
Worthy of all the praise
Be our light, everlasting
Great is your name, Jesus the First and the Last."
And I wondered how many people were praising God because they still had their lives, homes, cars, families, etc. This is wonderful, but I was reminded that many people cannot praise God for those things this morning. What they can praise God for is his Goodness. God deserves our praise because HE DOES. Not because of the good in our lives. He deserves our praise even in the bad. He deserves it because he is God.
"God's voice is glorious in the thunder.
We can't even imagine the greatness of his power."