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Posts Tagged ‘tornadoes’

It’s been three weeks now since what’s been termed the 2011 Super Outbreak of tornadoes.  In this part of the country, one doesn’t have to look very hard to tell that some serious stuff went down that day. Lots of blue roofs and fallen trees. Many, many people are still struggling to piece their lives back together.

But, most of the power has been restored and the rural roads are now clear enough to bike on, so I’ve been back at it. I took a short ride the Saturday after the tornadoes (April 30) and a longer ride the following Saturday, which actually crossed through the track of an EF4. Wow. Photos cannot do that justice, I promise you.

The Times Free Press recently ran an article about how relief agencies have all the used clothing and toys they can handle.  However, there are STILL ways to help. One thing I’ve heard is that lots of people need food that doesn’t require cooking or refrigeration (Beenie Weenies and the like).  There are collection centers in town. Calvary Chapel looks to have  pretty well organized effort on that front.   And the best collection of lists in town is still at the WRCB website. They’ve divided needs into SE Tenn., N. Georgia, and NE Alabama.

Anyway, with all the websites and twittering out there, one might think the humble church sign is a thing of the past, but I’ve found some pertinent information and ways to help on those signs as I bicycle through North Georgia. Here are three:

Flintstone, Georgia

Elizabeth Lee UMC; Chickamauga, Georgia

Wallaceville, Georgia

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It’s a cool, sunny, beautiful day here in Chattanooga. I find it difficult to believe that this time a week ago, I cast a worried look at a roiling green horizon, grabbed my dog and a woolen blanket, and rode out a storm in my pantry. Ultimately, that storm didn’t do much; however, it was one of four that shot up through Alabama and rumbled over the ridge where I live.

We didn’t get much but fallen trees in the city (and those did wreak some havoc for people I care about), but I’ll be thinking through the events of April 27 for a long while simply because of the bizarre sensation of living on the perimeter of a catastrophe. So, I have three pictures for you today. None of them are big damage shots. I’ll leave those to the pros. I’ve not gone into those parts of the county/region anyway because I have no reason to – volunteer needs are mostly for people with chainsaws and ATVs, and gawkers only cause problems.

BUT these three shots do convey a few things – the day of the storms itself, with its multiple trips to interior rooms/basements, the community response, and the little pieces of lives which I have found scattered all around the campus where I live.

faculty children exercise caution as they wait out storm #3 in a basement

What else could we do?

found while walking the dog on the morning of May 4 - a piece of tin roofing, a bank statement, a page from the Old Testament

Remember, there are still ways you can help the storm victims if you are so inclined. Do consider texting Redcross to 90999 if you can! Also, my school is collecting non-perishable goods which require little-to-no cooking (think beenie weenies and breakfast cereal), so get in touch with me if you want to do that, and I’ll get those beenie weenies into the right hands.

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While news coverage has been awkwardly sandwiched between the royal wedding and the death of bin Laden, most of you probably still know that, last week, the South was hit with the worst tornado outbreak in history. At last count, 266 tornadoes rolled across the South over a period of about 20 hours.  The death toll is still in flux, but it’s somewere around 350, making it the deadliest storm since a similar incident in the 1930s.

Hamilton County, Tennessee, where I live, was hit  by about 8 twisters. 11 people died. At least 80 are dead in the Tri-State area of Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama, of which Chattanooga is the urban hub.  Every rural area where I enjoy road-biking was hit, with portions of Apison, Tennessee and Ringgold, Georgia wiped off the map so completely that emergency workers can’t use the street grid to find addresses. 

Since last Wednesday, those of us who were relatively unaffected by the storms (my part of town abuts against a ridge which served as a rather effective shield) have struggled with what to do in their wake. Do we take our bottled water and old clothes to area shelters and then go on as if nothing happened?

I am a writer, so I write. I am also a detail person (well, in some ways I am), so I take note of the pieces of debris I’ve found around me – shingles, insulation, bank deposit slips, children’s homework papers, receipts, pieces of paperback books – all blown in from Alabama, as far as I can tell.  I’ve been collecting it all in an empty flower pot on my porch. Expect an essay about that soon, but for now I’m not doing much. The words are there, somewhere. For now, I am thinking about destruction and wondering about redemption. I am wondering if the message of Easter will ever resonate again and, given today’s big news story, wondering how death, especially any death in the face of a brutal war, can ever be cause for unrestrained celebration.

There are ways to offer help to the tornado victims, however. The easiest and quickest thing to do is to text “Redcross” to 90999, which will set you up to donate $10 through your phone bill. If you’re in the area, the WRCB website has published a list of volunteer and donation opportunities.

Although some of my friends did suffer property damage, everyone I know is physically okay. My students are, too.  But many people are not, and those people require our thoughts and prayers. Thanks.

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