I'm sure you have seen all of the footage from the tornados that ravaged the south. I've heard there were over 100 that touched down that day, but the one that hundreds of thousands will never forget was on the ground for an estimated 180 miles... ON THE GROUND!!
Here is a video if you have been hiding out (or maybe they haven't showed the 24/7 coverage in your area like here).
This guy is crazy....
Anyways, it was a very scary day and yes, also happened to be my birthday. My 28th birthday.
The plan was that we were going to have school and host my first Career Day at the middle school and then we knew bad weather was expected and thought we'd possibly get out half a day like we had twice in the past two weeks. Well, at 5:30am Ben and I woke up to horrible rain, wind and limbs falling on the house and went and got in the bathroom. Our power was already out at this point, so we just waited for it to pass.
Once it did, school was canceled because this brief storm caused quite a bit of damage already through Tuscaloosa. We managed to slip out during lunch, while it was sunny as could be, and grab a few cupcakes and get lunch before we hurried back home. On our way out though, what we saw was that about 1/2 mile from our house our neighbors houses were destroyed from that mornings storm. Power lines were down everywhere and trees through their houses and yet, this was minuscule for what was to come.
We made it home and I had my iPhone trying to listen to continuous coverage at that point because there had already been several monster tornados destroy towns like Cullman (hour north of us). The tornado in Tuscaloosa formed shortly after and I lost it, I could see bits and pieces of it on my iphone and they kept saying it was atleast 1/2 a mile wide. I was horrified for my friends, school and my students in Tuscaloosa (thankfully, I had heard from my nephew who lives just north of the path that he was okay) and yet the tornado was still on the ground moving towards us. As our FAVORITE meteorologist James Spann was calling out towns, Ben kept saying, if we hear Brookwood, we'll go to the neighbor's basement. Well, sure enough he said, if you are near Brookwood take cover immediately. So we went with the dogs to their basement and huddled up in the corner of their garage praying it would miss us, and thank the Lord it did.
Here is a picture of the path from NOAA. We live about 10 miles northwest of that 11 symbol.
My cousin John, from Tallahassee, was texting me letting me know where it was because we were still relying on spotty cell phone streaming or the radio station (who was also streaming the coverage from the djs iphone and playing it over the air... not kidding).
Once we were sure it had passed, we just waited and listened to see where it was going next. Onto Birmingham, it demolished (I don't even think that word does justice to the devastation it caused) five or six towns in the way and continued on past Birmingham up towards Gadsden where my brother's family lives, sparing them also, thank the Lord.
Here is a preliminary track picture from the National Weather Service showing the tornadoes from Wednesday. The huge one is in pink, still unconfirmed if it was an EF-4 or EF-5.
We remained without power until late last night, but are so thankful to be alive. The main tornado in Tuscaloosa missed my school, but hit several others in my system and the city's school system. Ben's boss's home was completely destroyed while they were in it, the only thing left standing was the hallway walls, the place they were huddled as it went over them. If you have not seen pictures of what these tornadoes did, just google it, there are millions out there. NOAA has before and after pictures as well. Its just heartbreaking. Yet, there are so many blessings in spite of this terrible disaster that went through our state. I know God is here and everywhere helping to give people hope and healing in this devastating time.
As of this morning there are still 420 people missing and somewhere around 250 confirmed deaths. Please pray for each of these people missing that they will be found alive or were able to find shelter and just cannot get in touch with loved ones due to power outages.
This morning in church as we discussed the process and need for rescue and recovery, we were told that this will take at least 1000 days for people to recover from. Almost 3 years. If you would like to donate, there are dozens of places accepting. Our church is also accepting donations through North Alabama UMC. Just really think how it is God can use you during this time of need.