Thursday, April 28, 2011

This may not be Kansas, but it sure feels like it

Last night,  large portion of the town I call home, Tuscaloosa, was blown away in minutes by tornadoes. I still have family in the area, including my parents. Everyone seems to be ok. Some minor damage to homes and cars, but no injuries or worse. And for that, I am most grateful.

But I have spent some time today looking at the videos and pictures of what is left of Alberta City, 15th Street, and Cottondale. And I have spent some time today shedding a few tears. I was just there a few weeks ago and all was calm. The weather was beautiful, the flowers were in bloom, and we had a great weekend. Little did I know that a lot of what I was looking at would be gone in a matter of weeks.

I'm a pretty brave person, but I am afraid of tornadoes. Not because of what I have heard about them, but because I was in one when I was a young girl. My father was working in Clanton and I must have been about 6 or 7 years old. I went to work with him that day. It was a day like any other and that evening, we headed home to Tuscaloosa in his little Volkswagen Beetle. There was an 8 track player in the car and we were listening to Tony Orlando and Dawn. Just before we got to the Centreville/Brent area, I asked him to stop and get me something to drink. We must have been in the store 5 minutes and then got back on the road. During that 5 minutes, one of the worst tornadoes to hit the State of Alabama hit Centreville and Brent. The cities were completely destroyed. We missed it by minutes. As we drove down the road, I saw people lying on the side of the road and houses completely flattened. The road eventually became impassable and we had to turn back. The nice people who owned the store we had just left were kind enough to offer us shelter. I think we might have been able to call my mother to let her know we were okay but I'm not sure about that detail. All I know is that my knees were literally knocking against each other. I was so scared.

Years later, we lived for a few years in a small town called Sylacauga before finally moving back to Tuscaloosa. While in Sylacauga, a tornado hit there. It wasn't as bad as the one I had experienced earlier, but I actually saw this one. It was headed straight toward us and then just as quickly, it split into two different funnel clouds and turned away. I was so scared that time that I ran a bit of a fever.

I don't "freak out" in storms. I don't cry and shake and go to pieces. But inside, I'm concerned. I really don't like it if the whole family is not home. I like to have everyone near me and safe.

I am holding Tuscaloosa in my heart tonight as she begins the long, slow recovery. That is my home and always will be. Roll Tide Roll.

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