Posted by – June 26, 2014
Well, after seven weeks working tornado response in the City of Graysville we are finally saying “Goodbye” and moving on. There’s been a lot of progress made here since the April 28th tornadoes and soon you will be better than new.
I’ve worked with a great team here and the residents have been so friendly. The only way I could have felt any more at home is if I had bought a house. But that’s nothing new for the good people of Alabama. I was here three years ago after the 2011 tornado super-outbreak (also in late April) and was treated very well then also.
The folks here love to make and share cakes and other goodies. I’m not much of a sweet eater but I’ve had plenty this visit. In my defense, it’s considered offensive to refuse the love (goodies) someone prepares for you and I don’t want to offend anyone. On the contrary, I have accepted any and all love. And I have the added 10 pounds on me to prove it!
So Graysville, I just wanted to say thank you for your kindness, your support, and your southern hospitality. It’s truly been a pleasure serving the people of Alabama again and I wish you all the best.
It’s been a little more than a month since the tornadoes came through here and, although folks don’t seem to be looking for help anymore, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Until folks get their property cleared off they won’t be able to rebuild so there are a lot of debris and log trucks on the road moving material from place to place. The phone company field staff has nearly completed all they CAN do for now. As one guy put it “unless we pull a Green Acres and put a phones on poles next to the concrete slabs there’s nothing else we can do until homes are built ”.
As the Volunteers dwindle the politics heats up. That’s typical. It happens all the time. It’s a shame, though, that the news doesn’t continue to share the feel good stuff. There are still neighbors and local groups helping folks out here and still groups coming from out of town to offer assistance. (Wish they would help us get a cell phone signal. I’m starting to think cell service was non-existent here BEFORE the tornadoes though.)
One of the locals came by wearing a “rebuild Alabama” t-shirt. She said the Berry Elementary School had them printed up to raise money for their school and the school in Hackleburg. We’re always looking for ways to help out the community/local economy and for souvenirs to take back home so we contacted the school. By the time we were done there were no shirts left. I think we made the school ladies very happy.
Also, the Birmingham News paper has been advertising this: “The stories of tragedy, loss, courage and faith are captured through the words and photos of The Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register and Huntsville Times in our book Day of Devastation. This 128-page volume is now available for order. A portion of the proceeds of this book will be contributed to the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund, created to help those affected by the storms.” This is my next purchase. You can find it online at The Birmingham Store or Books-a-Million.
Until next time…. back to work.
Greetings from Northwest Alabama! It’s been a very looong 2 weeks but it seems like things are progressing. Many folks around here are determined to do most of the work themselves as they want to be self sufficient, don’t want anyone in their business, and don’t trust the government. For those that want help there are plenty of outside sources including: local church groups, the Mennonites, the Church of Ladder Day Saints, Farm Services, the local Department of Human Resources, 211 (United Way), and the federal government. My team has been working diligently to try and find those folks who need help and encourage them to accept or apply for help. (By the way, the picture to the right was taken by a local when the tornado came through this area.)
Lots of tornado stories here, but none I wish to share. Much too sad. Well, maybe this one…. I spoke with a woman who stuck a football helmet on her son and rolled him up in the mattress. Unfortunately, she was sucked out of the home and suffered some injuries but the boy was uninjured. Happy ending.
I’ve been amazed at some of what I’ve seen. I tried to take a picture of one sight (left) while driving past but didn’t get what I wanted to show. (And now it’s nearly cleaned up.) Anyway, there are several mobile homes here amongst many tall trees. A bunch of trees were uprooted and are laying down around the mobile homes. Other than some awning dents every one of those trees missed those homes. And no tornado damage to those homes either. What are the odds?
There are a lot of restaurants located in gas stations here. According to a few of my co-workers the food is good but the thought scares me. I frequent one particular place down the road we call “grandma’s place” (Eagle Rock Grill, Inc.). Down home cookin! Comes complete with artery hardening grease and pound packin calories. I don’t even know how many pounds I’ve put on since I’ve been out here (not to mention the acne I’ve got going on) but it sure is good!
Sleep, eat, work…. rinse and repeat. That’s about it. Until next time!
(If you’d like to check out what few pics I’ve taken since I’ve been here, go to my online Alabama album.)
It’s been quite a month, hasn’t it? I’m still trying to wrap my head around the storms that ravaged the south and the destruction and loss they left behind. Add that to the wild fires burning everything up and the flooding caused by overloaded rivers that haven’t even crested yet and all I can do is shake my head in disbelief.
Record snowfall. Record flooding. Record tornado outbreak. I’ve been glued to the weather channel now for weeks. Can’t… turn it… off…! And I’m sure what I’m seeing on television is nothing compared to how it really is. We haven’t even gotten to hurricane season yet. Now that’s a scary thought!
I’ll be heading out to Alabama tomorrow to work. I’m not sure just yet where I’ll be working or how long I’ll be there but I’m ready. There are already a lot of boots on the ground, helping with whatever they can. Kudos to all of you who have made donations and volunteered your time to help these folks out. They sure do need it and I hope that they make a speedy recovery.