Tuesday, May 3, 2011

On A Serious Note: Alabama Tornado Outbreak, April 2011

1.5 mile wide wedge Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado in downtown Tuscaloosa, AL.

Rarely, if ever, do I depart from the humorous format I've come to use on this blog. However, recently, in my home state, a tragedy of massive proportion happened, and I want to use every outlet available to me to spread the word and garner attention for the need of aid to the affected areas. You will find funny sweaters in this post, or lighthearted laughs; the gravity of this event is too great. I've taken this post from my regular blog, The Shenanigan Files, and copied it word for word here. Please take the time to read it, and if you can, offer your support to the communities touched by this horrible event. To anyone who reads this blog and responds in any way possible, thank you so much for anything you can give.

On April 27th, my home state, Alabama, along with several other Southeastern states, was hit by a devastating outbreak of severe weather. It has now been estimated that roughly 362 tornadoes touched down over a three day span, the 25th-27th, 312 of which occurred on the 27th. The destruction and loss of life was staggering.  We had excellent warning, days of notice that severe weather was coming, and for many, up to half an hour of tracking coverage before an actual strike... still, the absolute power of the storms was too much, and despite the fact that these storms were taken very seriously by the majority of the populace, they were simply to strong, too big, too deadly, and many were killed in spite of their safety measures. So far, over 350 deaths have been recorded, and over 300 people are still unaccounted for.

 Statistics courtesy of NOAA

 The clean up and relief efforts have started, but this isn't something that can be fixed in a week or even a month. The people affected by this storm will need long term support. The areas hit were highly populated, both urban and suburban. Communities I have known my whole life are gone, and people are left with nothing. These are my neighbors... these are your neighbors. Please offer whatever support you can, time, money, goods, blood, prayer... all of it is needed. Remember them when the next sensational story overshadows the coverage of their suffering. Below are some links where you can donate or sign up to volunteer your time. 

 Local churches are also organizing aid distribution and drop off sites, so check in your community to help at these aid stations. Also, contact your city hall for more information.

If you have been affected by the storms, please contact FEMA to apply for federal aid. 

This site has many pictures of the devastation and puts a human face on much of it, such as this photo of a grandmother comforting her granddaughter... this tragedy happened to real people. (Fair warning, some of the reader comments are atrociously ignorant.)

myfoxal(courtesy Beth Shelburn's fb page)
Cullman County's tornado, destroyed much of downtown Cullman, including homes and businesses.

The damage path of the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado as seen from 41,000 feet.

A few, pictures from own community:

 These apartments have been condemned.

 Metal siding was ripped off like paper.

 Completely destroyed.

Total loss, owner has decided against rebuilding.
 The damage shown here is along the main stretch of highway and in no way shows the complete picture of what was affected. Other homes and businesses suffered greater damage. It is surreal, the extent of the destruction state wide, regionally wide. I have debris in my yard from 60 miles away, people's mail, parts of their homes...

Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Cullman, Pleasant Grove, Pratt City, Hackleburg, Cordova, Concord, Athens, Fultondale, Smithfield, Rosedale, and many, many other communities need our help.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me'." Matthew 25:40

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