If there is one thing I know about my dad it is that he is always on top of the weather. My mom had previously told me that he had lost power but I knew that he would have a radio to listen to the weather. As I watched the streaming weather forecast, the meteorologist said that the tornado had knocked out the tower that broadcasted alerts to the weather radios. The tornado was headed straight to my hometown and my dad had no way of knowing what was headed towards him. I was frantic.
A minute later David called me and I was so upset that I think the only words he understood were: tornado, daddy, and can't get ahold of him. He tried to comfort me but it was useless because I had no idea if my dad was okay. I told him I had to go because I had to listen to the weather. Five minutes later I received a text message from David saying he got in touch with my dad and that my dad was okay and going to call me soon. I finally took a deep breathe and waited for my dad to call but my phone never rang.
"Half a mile till it hits" was what the meteorologist said and all I could do was sit there and stare at my computer. I was helpless. Immediately I began texting my dad everything the meteorologist said. I had no idea if my dad was receiving my text, but that is the most I could do being half way around the world. Tornado after tornado kept appearing on the radar. Within a span of 10 minutes 4 tornadoes had been sited around my hometown. It was unbelievable. With tears streaming down my face and a sickening feeling in my stomach the only thing I could do was pray.
It felt like I had been watching the weather forecast for hours but in reality it was only 30 minutes. I heard that other tornadoes hit other towns, but I couldn't comprehend the magnitude of the destruction because I could only focus on weather or not my dad was alive and safe. My phone rang and on my caller id it said, "Home" it was my dad. His cell phone wouldn't call out because of the storms. Relief isn't a strong enough word for how I felt when I heard his voice on the other line. The storms weren't over yet but he had a long enough break in the storms to call me and let me know that he was safe.
Once I realized my dad was safe, I was devastated to see the rest of my state was being destroyed by tornadoes. My sister called to tell me that Tuscaloosa, where the University of Alabama is, was hit be a mile wide tornado. Tuscaloosa. It's our second home. I spent every Saturday of the Fall growing up in Tuscaloosa. It's where my dad and sister went to college. It's where my best friends from high school went to college. It's the town where my parents used to bribe me when I was little with Krispy Kreme Doughnuts to go to the football games. It's where I started loving Alabama football. It's the town I have secretly wanted to live in because I love the college town atmosphere. It's my second home and half of it was destroyed.
Not just Tuscaloosa was hit by a tornado but several other cities were completely destroyed by a tornado. I have family and friends throughout the state and my family was extremely lucky. Buildings, homes, and cars can be rebuilt but having all my family and friends safe is priceless. It seems selfish to say that, but it's true. I still cry every time I see new photos from the vast destruction of the tornadoes that tore through my home state on Wednesday. All I can do is thank God for providing protection of my family and friends. I wish I was home to help with the clean up process. When I come home in May, Alabama will not be the same state from when I left it 2 years ago. It will take several years to rebuild what we have lost but our God is faithful and we will become a stronger state because of it.
One of my friends from home had this verse on her blog and I thought it was perfect.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."Psalm 46.
Here are some ways to help Alabama:
You can purchase these t-shirts here. All proceeds from t-shirts will be donated to the red cross relief fund for Alabama. Alabama is playing Kent State in the first football game of the season and the fans will "white-out" with these shirts.
You can purchase this notebook or cards from here. $5.00 from each purchase will be donated to the red cross relief fund to Alabama.
TIME has provided a list of ways to donate on their site. Click here.
Keep Alabama and the South in your prayers.