Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Post 2011 Tornadoes

Alabama has been rocked and turned upside down and spun around in a blender. On Wednesday a lot things were going on with life. I was still in Clemson, SC finishing up work so that I could come home early this weekend. I got a text message from my boyfriend telling me that an F5 tornado just went through my best friends city (Tuscaloosa, AL) and that everything had been decimated. There was a 30 minute window of time when I couldn’t get in touch with her, our friends, or any of her family. I cannot stress the amount of discomfort that shot through my body. We were joking about the number of sirens that had gone off earlier that day and asking why everyone was making such a fuss — I remember the last sarcastic thing she said to me , “You know, these people are really just trying to interrupt my Braves game.”

Being from Alabama, it’s not an uncommon occurrence to hear the sirens and do nothing — we’ve become a bit numb to them and we’ve forgotten how fragile life can be. I was thinking as the night wore on that she better have gone for cover because I would not be able to deal with the alternative if she hadn’t. Finally (later that evening), I spoke to her brother and mother and they both assured me that she was safe. We soon found out that a lot of the cell towers were taken down and that it was difficult for anyone to call in and out of the city. It was more reliable to be texting. Later that night she told me that one of her friends saved her life. I am so, so thankful. We now know that the tornado was a mile wide and went across the whole of Alabama West to East, killing more than 300 people across the southeast–leaving over 200 uncalled for.

On Thursday my boyfriend went down to Tuscaloosa with work to see what they could do and how they could help. He said that it looked like a war zone. Places were unrecognizable. He said that one city block would be totally demolished while the next would be totally the same — untouched. Parts of houses and walls were torn off; however, books would still be sitting on the shelves. He said it was amazing–these are his photographs.

Above is a photograph of a family that lost everything — the Dad is carrying the fish bowl. Can you even imagine? Check out some incredible before and after images from google maps… click here. What’s really scary, is that in those images you can see the path of the tornado – the actual path it took.

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Today I am thankful for good friends and wonderful family.

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