Friday, May 6, 2011

Flashback Fridays: The Devastating Southern Storms


For this week's Flashback Friday, I wanted to reflect on the local and world events
of the last ten days, predominantly the devastating storms in the South. And holy moly, what an insane ten days it has been. I mean, the Royal Wedding and Osama Bin Laden's death all in one weekend coming on the tail end of the second worst tornado system in American History.

It all began a week ago on Tuesday evening. While perusing Facebook posts, I saw where a local Atlanta station, WSBTV, had posted a very ominous weather report for Wednesday night. On a rating scale, conditions are likely for tornado activity at 2 and 3--they were predicting levels of 8 and 11. I'd already heard of devastating storms hitting Arkansas, so the threat seemed very plausible.

Wednesday at my school was supposed to be a fun day for the Seniors--slide show, talent show, picnic, and then a Powder Puff game where the girls of the schools don football jerseys and the guys play the cheerleaders.

All that came to a screeching halt at about 8:15 when we were ordered to get into the hallways(especially my class since we're in a mobile unit). In my ten years of teaching, I've practiced tornado drills each and every year. However, I've never actually been involved in an actual tornado until Wednesday. And I knew it was bad when administration told us teachers we were to take cover with our students instead of patrolling the hallways. The worst was hearing the reports crackling over the walkie talkies of tornadoes touching down close to us. After almost an hour packed into the hallways, we were ushered to the talent show. But in the middle of it, we got word that they were sending us home early at 11:30. On the drive back home, the damage was already very visible with uprooted trees and broken limbs. But the worst was yet to come.

Around eight that evening, I packed up my two dogs and headed to my grandmother's who lives five minutes from me. We huddled in her living room, glued to the news reports--ready at any moment to head to the interior hallway since she didn't have a basement. Over and over, the piercing tornado siren rang through the night, but fortunately, the storm went directly to the north of us.

The entire night reminded me of the book, Night of the Twisters, that my 4th grade teacher read aloud to us. It was made into a 1996 movie with Devon Sawa from Final Destination and John Schnieder from The Dukes of Hazard.

I teach an hour away from home this year in Walker County(which was featured in Water for Elephants...the farmhouse is owned by a teacher at my school). And while my home county had very minimal storm damage, the county where I teach was hit hard. We ended up missing school on Thursday, Friday, and Monday, and then we've been on a 2-hr delay all week to allow extra time for those still without power. However, compared to Walker's next door county, they were lucky. Ringgold, Georgia, which is in Catoosa County, was basically leveled. Businesses, the schools, houses--all wiped away. Seven deaths were reported in that county, which brought the death total in Georgia to fifteen.

However, nothing in Georgia could compare the utter devastation and destruction in Alabama. Over two hundred dead. The college town of Tuscaloosa wiped out. The images I've seen on television and in person are horrifying and almost unbelievable.

Ways you can help

You can head over to Help Write Now, an online auction from writers, agents, and editors to bid on items where all proceeds go to help storm victims.

The Salvation Army & The Red Cross are already on the ground and helping delivering food, shelter, and helping with clean up.

The Passionate Penny Pincher has a link for care packages for children impacted by the storm.


Chelsey said...

I am so sorry. I went to undergrad in Atlanta, and it's so painful to think of Georgia so devastated. Glad you and your students stayed safe, but that must have been so frightening.

J.S. Wood said...

Thanks for sharing this!

Debra D. said...

Thanks for posting this! So, so sad....but it's also so great how many are trying to help!