April 27th 2011

One of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in Alabama history. It all started at 5:30 that morning with a EF-2 that hit about 20 miles from me. One of my friend’s houses was hit really bad. They are all ok but had to move to a new house. Then at 5:15 pm I was watching LIVE a tornado form to the west of Tuscaloosa. It has been reported as an EF-4. As I am watching this on TV about to hit the college town of the University of Alabama and where my sister goes, I begin to pray that the Lord keeps her safe. I have never in my life seen anything like it. As it barreled down on the city it continued on its path to Birmingham. By the time it reached downtown it was a mile and a half wide. It is very hard for me to fathom seeing something this large. It was eerie seeing it on TV and the city skyline in the background.

Waking up the next morning and turning on the TV to find the Royal Wedding made my heart heavy. I had a hard time watching it knowing there were hundreds of people suffering and had lost everything. I was a part of the disaster recovery team at work on Thursday and Friday to help get supplies to our branches and then to the employees that were affected. Friday morning we packed a van and headed to Tuscaloosa. I got to see a glimpse of the devastation. There are no words to explain what I saw.

After returning Friday I knew I wanted to continue to help in some way. Me and 3 of my friends signed up to help with a church on Saturday. When we get down to Tuscaloosa to sign in they proceed to tell us there is nothing for us to do at this time. Really? Have you seen the area? So we just started walking towards the area that was hit. Once we reached the area it just took my breath away. Before when you could only see trees and buildings you could now see for miles! Everything was flattened. All you heard were chainsaws going non stop.

As we walked through a hard hit neighborhood we saw an older man working in what used to be his yard. We stopped and asked if we would be able to help him in anyway. He immediately said yes! We soon met his mom, Jean (83), her niece and nephew, Lee and Jimmy. Bill was his name. Bill and Jean were not able to get into their basement in time and were holding onto the stair railing as it was pulling them back up. As she was telling us this I just had tears rolling down my face. To see that indeed God was holding on to them the entire time was amazing.

We spent 4 hours with this amazing family helping clean up their house. I was shocked to see what the storm dropped in their yard. When I went home Saturday I read Psalm 46:1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, through the earth will give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

There are still hundreds that are missing. At the same time I have heard so many amazing survival stories and you can really see that God had his hand in this even though it is hard to understand!

It is wonderful to see the state of Alabama and 2 of the biggest football rivals (Alabama and Auburn) come together and help everyone that is in need. There are tons of facebook groups and twitter groups that are getting volunteers coordinated and raising money.

This is my sister's apartment complex!