Thursday, October 27, 2011

Six months and a lifetime ago...

It's been six months since the Tornadoes moved through this area and basically changed the lives  forever of many good people. I was thinking back to that morning and I remember how the day unfolded. After being awakened by a early morning phone call from my sister, warning me of a "possible tornado" heading this way, I got out of bed just in time to look out of my kitchen window to see a 5 or 6 foot long limb heading right my way, luckily it hit a tree in my front yard and was deflected away, my house started to "breathing" and I got a little concerned. It was over in 30 seconds and the sky turned the most amazing Blue I had ever seen, giving me a false since of  relief, if I had only known how the rest of that day was about to play out. Thinking I was in the clear, I began my normal daily routine, still not having turned on the TV, so I was totally unaware of what they were saying would be heading our way throughout the day. After some persuading, I finally decided to go up to my sister's house to "ride out the day", several family members started showing up and it was easy to see, folks were nervous. Now I'm not saying this to sound tough or brave or anything else, but tornadoes just never scared me, so I was really ho-hum about the whole situation, that would change drastically after this day.
 As the second tornado moved through in the afternoon, we had a good vantage point from my sisters back porch, we watched it move right over the Trenton area, right toward Edgewood, having both family and friends in that neighborhood, I got a sick feeling in my stomach and I remember thinking "Damn, just let everyone be ok". After hearing from my nephew, I had a sense of relief, until I asked about my friends Shawn and Holly, I told my nephew where they lived and he was like "oh man, it got hit hard right there" heart sank and thats when it hit me...this is some real serious stuff going on right now!
Just as it had done that morning, the sky turned beautiful and it was a nice day, then we heard the news that a line was heading across the state that was unlike anything Alabama had ever seen, a Midwestern type storm, which meant one thing to me...EF-5 tornadoes....I thought I'd never witness anything like that in my lifetime, wow, was I ever wrong. We used the weather radio and car radios to keep up with when and where they were supposed to hit.
"Tuscaloosa has been hit very hard"..."Major damage in Tuscaloosa, unconfirmed deaths"... That came across one of the radio stations...I found myself getting a sick feeling again, I had a couple of friends there, and no way of knowing if they were ok...that feeling of not knowing began to take a grip on me internally, but the focus soon turned to this area with the words..."This is a major Tornado heading into the North Alabama area, it is already responsible for many deaths!" We waited as a family, and it wasn't long before the air temp dropped 15 degrees and the winds started picking up, then shifting, then all of a sudden another nephew, who had been monitoring the car radio came running in with the words "Its right on top of us, everybody take shelter"...too late, it was here. The eye of the storm was about 1200 feet away from us, but you could hear the damage being done and see the damn thing just kind of bouncing up and down, almost picking and choosing when and where and sadly it seemed, who it was going to hit. As night began take hold, we began getting reports "from the ground". My nephew Wayne and his wife came in visibly shaken, she was crying and all she could say was "they're dead...they were just all laying out there dead!"...They had gone to help folks over in the Shiloh community, she described the scene to us and it sounded like something from a movie, "just unreal"...where the words they used to describe it. The next morning I was awakened by what I hope is the worse news I receive this year..."Bill, Blake Peek is dead!"...I didn't believe it, I found out my friend Meagan was ok and that was a huge relief, but still all I could do was just sorta sit there and cry. I would find out more and more about friends, family and strangers as the day went on, it was all so surreal.
Slowly but surely people began to recover, and things started to getting back to the norm, power was restored, clean up crews arrived and people started doing what it is people in the South do best during times of tragedy, they were helping each other and helping folks to try and get back to living, in some form or fashion.
Today, you can take a ride on HWY 117 and still see the damage, you can actually see the path the tornadoes moved,  along the top of Sulphur Springs, where I live, there is evidence of destruction, its also like this across Sand Mtn and parts of Trenton. Its been six months, and  people have returned to everyday life, houses are being built back, lives are being restored and things are moving ahead....Its been six months...but it seems like a lifetime ago...Til next time...Peace...Love and Happiness.

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