Today marks the one year anniversary of the devastating and deadly tornado event that passed through Alabama.
From my vantage point, in central Alabama, the day began, literally, with pre-dawn tornado warnings and news that major damage had occurred in and around the Vestavia neighborhood of Cahaba Heights.
The afternoon was spent with the wife and kids near our safe place with James Spann relaying the details of what was happening.
When we caught a break in the action, we headed upstairs to grab a bite to eat before the next series of warnings.
So I was sitting at my dining room table, eating supper, watching the killer tornado pass through Tuscaloosa via a television signal. I can’t say that I’ve ever experienced anything like that in my lifetime. I was sitting at my table watching a tornado kill people and destroy millions of dollars in property.
The emotions were also intensified because I’m a part-owner of a business in Tuscaloosa. So as the tornado moved across my television screen, I was pretty sure that the business was being destroyed.
At about 8:00 p.m., thankfully and by the grace of God, I heard that the business was spared and all of the staff made it through the storm safely. Damage started about one block away and major devastation was about three from the store.
A few days later, I was able to visit the city. The destruction was unbelievable. Pictures and video did not do justice to the actual scene. A big swath of the city looked like a war zone, complete with disturbing images of survivors and volunteers combing through the wreckage. For me, the most lasting image of the storm was seeing a medium sized tree that had it’s bark completely sucked off of it’s trunk and limbs. What kind of a storm could do such damage? It was unbelievable.
The day after the storm, I traveled to Guntersville to attend to some personal business. Much of the region lost power early on the day of the storm and had no idea what had happened in Tuscaloosa.
Though the storm inflicted such heinous damage, it could not kill the spirit of the people in this part of our state. Thousands of people mobilized to provide all kinds of relief. Water, generators, food, man-power, money and more were given and given some more.
A year later the areas affected by the storm have made a remarkable recovery. The emotional and physical scars are still there, but they fade and pale in comparison to the spirit of the region.