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April 27th Tornadoes Ravage North Alabama

Posted by musekatcher on Friday, April 29, 2011

Hi All,

Its been a week to remember.  Without going into the details, I'm thankful to report that I, my family, my neighbors and co-workers all emerged safe and sound.  While some experienced some property damage, the impact is not important as we watch and learn of others who did not survive, or suffered injuries.  The outpouring of prayers, supplies, volunteers, neighbors has been remarkable.  I think we all desperately want to lift up those who suffered the most. 

I survived our April 3rd, 1974 tornado event in North Alabama, and learned to be prepared as a result.  We were prepared in many ways - flashlights, food and water, a safe, comfortable area below grade, radios, candles, an old unpowered phone, and so on.  As the waves of storms and tornado reports passed over us, often too many simultaneously for the reporters to sensibly communicate, I realized there is no way to emotionally prepare for these things.  Initially, I began itemizing which possessions needed to go with us to the shelter.  With each passing tornado warning, and we had over 20 within a 14 hr period in Limestone County, the list got shorter, eventually loosing all importance, as many reports put us in direct paths.  At one point, a very talkative family became dead silent as we listened to a reported sighting a mile or two to the Southwest of us.  That would mean we are within a very likely path, if the tornado were to drop to ground level.  Finally, the last of the storms passed by after what seemed like days.  The extent of damage and loss of life unfolded over the next 12 hours, reminded us of that moment when we realized how vulnerable we are, and fortunate we were.  As we clean up several downed trees that luckily missed our buildings, I'll be cheerful and thankful for the additional work.  I'll be glad too, to help the neighbors with their trees and building damage. 

The last possessions on my "save" list were my dad's guitar and banjo,  and my grandfather's fiddle, but then I decided as valuable as they are to me, its more valuable to just be able to play, and that was something I *could* take with me no matter what.  Even that became unimportant as my thoughts turned to my family and others and just surviving what seemed like an epic battle, with tornadoes forming like bombs dropping unannounced, closer and closer, surely about to hit us.  This was the closest call for us. 

In the aftermath, the neighboring county has no power - the entire county.  Madison county is the economic hub of North Alabama, and employs maybe half the areas 1 million, directly or indirectly.    The damage to transmission lines is wide spread from evidentially dozens of tornadoes and wind shears, which will make restoration a long and difficult task.  Many have no water.  But so many churches, clubs, agencies and groups have stepped forward to offer meals, beds, labor and equipment, that its not hopeless for those hit hardest.  Its been so important to see the cooperation and charity thru-out Alabama, and the rest of the nation.  We will eventually get everything back to normal, and go back to complaining about gas prices, fire ants, and college football, but for now, we are glad to have each other to share the load. 

5 comments on “April 27th Tornadoes Ravage North Alabama”

mudbug Says:
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @3:12:41 AM

I'm glad you and yours are safe. Yes, things like this have a way of making us thankful and realising what is important in life.

Bart Says:
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @6:35:10 AM

Thank you for taking the time to write such an articulate and heartfelt message. I'd say "hang in there," but it is obvious that you will, and that you will help others to do so wherever you are able. Blessings on you, Jim.

bj Says:
Saturday, April 30, 2011 @5:59:58 PM

I'm glad to hear that you and yours (and your instruments!) are safe and sound.

robinja Says:
Sunday, May 1, 2011 @8:28:12 AM

Jim - I'm sure glad y'all are safe. I am just now realizing the extent of these storms. I wish I could figure out some way to help the victims. Dean and I thought about driving up to north Georgia today with the chain saw and offer our assistance, but it appears that the hardest hit areas are closed off. Guess I'll donate to the red cross for now. Take care. Hope to see you again soon.

BenJammin Says:
Sunday, May 1, 2011 @6:01:57 PM

Glad that you are safe. The tornados ripped through my town too; less than three miles from my house. Needless to say it puts things in perspective rather quickly. As I was preparing to take cover, I was wondering which of my instruments I'd grab to hide under; in the end, I didn't grab any.. like you, i decided living was more important than instruments. Luckily we were spared, but it's breath taking to see the destruction..

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