And Now for Tuscaloosa

Almost 300 tornadoes occurred on Wednesday and killed that many people and more. The last count I heard was 318 dead from the Southern U.S. to Canada with Alabama bearing the brunt of it and in particular Tuscaloosa. The devastation is overwhelming:

Chances are good that I know someone who was hurt or killed, and I’m sure I’ll be finding out very soon. I am and will be mourning those who died, praying for those left behind and looking for a way to help. It was helpful to me personally to remember what happened to another town that was devastated a few years ago (2007) — Greensburg, Kansas. Virtually the entire town was wiped out:

Greensburg, KS May 16, 2007 – The center of town resembles a bomb site twelve days after it was hit by an F5 tornado. Cleanup and reconstruction will take years. Photo by Greg Henshall / FEMA

Thankfully, Greensburg made a decision, and they were able to bounce back with help and forward thinking, and now it’s Tuscaloosa’s turn.

Greensburg today:

Some may think it’s a little too soon to say something about Greensburg’s comeback, but obviously, I disagree. Yes, there needs to be mourning for those who lost their lives, but there should always be a specter of hope while it’s occurring.

If you want to help the victims of the tornadoes, I’m putting my plug in for Samaritan’s Purse, which is an organization I’ve been involved with and supported for several years. They have very low overhead; almost everything goes to those in need. The best part of their help is the people who come with it. The ones I’ve known are doing it as an act of love, and it’s obvious. There is also the Red Cross who always needs donations to continue their help, and I’m sure Greensburg will be doing their part to help.

For more information on Greensburg, please visit their site


  1. While watching the wedding with enthusiasm, we don’t forget the rest of the world. Especially at the moment, the southern U.S.

    100km windstorm here knocked out power over much of the city for hours yesterday. Trees and power lines down all over. Very unusual for this part of the country. No Internet/TV, just battery-powered radio and reading lamp. A portion of dog-yard fencing torn off and lyining on its back. No excuses for watching the wedding this morning, any more than I make excuses for a “crush” on a British actor.

    Back to reality, will be on the phone the rest of the day, tracking down contractors to address the fence and the damaged carport.

    Despite the fallout here in Ontario, it doesn’t compare with Alabama and other states in terms of devastation and lost lives. A few early hours of pageantry and a thermos of tea (couldn’t make tea last evening. So boohoo. Big deal) was welcome. And Red Cross is an excellent suggestion.

  2. I watched some of the recorded pomp and pageantry this morning . . . but I remain haunted by the horrific images of the devastation that took place in my state and so very close to people I love–my sister, nephew, niece and her family, my co-worker . . . only two weeks ago, three tornadoes touched down in this county, and while they caused a great deal of damage in some spots, no loss of life or injuries. We are so thankful.
    I am proud to say one of our volunteer fire departments is out right now gathering items today and tomorrow needed for the Tuscaloosa area–diapers, bottled water, canned foods, and more–to take on a truck to the area on Sunday.

    I am reminded of why I love this place so much. We are not wealthy, but we do give.

  3. I can also attest to high level of monies reaching those who need it thru Samaritan’s Purse. Their record is amazing! And for those of us who are so far away from those in TN, NC, MS, GA and AL, it’s a convenient way of donating.

    So far, all of my Christy family has checked in with only minor problems…elec. outage in GA seems to be the worst of it for them.

    Greensburg memories:

    Watching the storm on my front porch gather to the SE and wondering who was getting this one (I take storms seriously since moving here 30 yrs ago! Daily weather checks are made before anything happens here. Determines if I go, where I go and when I must be home. Seriously.)
    Staying up half the night watching news reports come in
    Near fights over who was going to pay for a pair of shoes for a young man!
    Local ranchers sending hundreds of lbs. of hamburger weekly with truckers volunteering to deliver it
    Our high school kids taking buses to work the cleanup on a weekly basis
    Loads and loads of clothing piling up in our high school foyer to be taken to Greensburg
    Friends and relatives calling from all over fearing that we were hit also…some of which we hadn’t heard from in years!

    Still can’t go thru the town. I need to. It’s just that it was such a beautiful little town. Onward and upward to those who were hit Wed.! And best wishes for your rebuilding. Like Angie said, the giving of others to those who are in need is a blessing/opportunity. God bless you all.

  4. Frenz, I meant to chime in earlier about Samaritan’s Purse. It is indeed an excellent organization. I have participated many times in its Operation Christmas Child project, aka shoebox ministry.

    NB, I didn’t go to bed until around 3 a.m. the night of the tornadoes–I kept watching the weather reports and was simply amazed at the massive size of the thing. In the darkness it was harder to track the system and I wanted to keep my ears open for anything that sounded like a freight train headed our way.
    Several friends have kids and grandkids attending Alabama and so far, all of them I have heard from fared the storm OK.

    We are not a densely populated state and to have more than 200 killed in Alabama alone says something about the magnitude of this. Many children in the Birmingham area and beyond are now being treated at the wonderful Children’s Hospital for injuries sustained in the tornado.

  5. It is stunning to me what’s happened in Alabama, and I guess I was moving so quickly on my post, that I didn’t realize I had put Thursday for the tornadoes instead of Wednesday. I’ve now corrected that.

    I grew up with tornadoes, and I remember all kinds of devastation. I could go on for about an hour recounting all of the storms I’ve been in and the devastation I’ve witnessed afterward, and yes, there were fatalities at times, but this one on Wednesday is unreal. I don’t remember but maybe one other time in my life when the fatalities were in this range.

  6. Me, too, Frenz. I remember as a child visiting places hit by tornadoes within a few miles of where I grew up (and now live). I was amazed at what destruction a tornado could cause in such a short span of time.

    I was living in Talladega in the early 80s and a tornado came right down South Street where the School for the Deaf and the School for the Blind were located. I made it to the main building of ASB just in the nick of time. I remember seeing stuff flying by outside and having no idea what the stuff actually was. And the roar of it.

    Many homes and vehicles were damaged, sidewalks buckled and streets blocked from huge hardwood trees yanked, root system and all, from the ground. I was afraid to go home that afternoon to the old Victorian house where I had an upstairs apartment, not knowing if it would have a tree through the roof. Thankfully, it was unharmed, but I did go without power for three days. But no one died and there were no serious injuries.

    To have as many people killed–and the body count continues to rise– with all the weather alert systems in place nowadays is almost unbelievable.

    My sister graduated from U of A and I know this is particularly sad for her. There are now parts of that city that are unrecognizable.

  7. […] Frenz provides a recommendation for a local organization that will be working on the ground to help survivors of the recent tornadoes in the US South. […]

  8. @Angie, glad your friends’ offspring are all OK! I’m the Official Storm Watcher after 10pm in this household. Hubs figures I’ll wake him up if anything important happens. My hero. A true Knight in Shining Armor. OK, i’ll give him a break. He does get up at 5am every day, but there ARE times when I need help monitoring the computer screen, the tv and the skies. I think I inherited my grandma’s fear of storms. At least since we moved here. Inspite of the day’s news of international affairs, I do hope our attention will swing back to our Southern neighbors.

    @Frenz…remember the storm cellars? Spiders, snakes….ewwwww. Not sure that it wasn’t safer out in the storm!

  9. 300 tornadoes in a DAY? In the same general area? Woah. So easy to forget how harsh a mistress Nature is when you live in a country where earthquakes are rare (and never really severe) and there are no tornadoes (aside from the tiny one in Birmingham a few years ago). My thoughts and best wishes to everyone involved!

  10. Traxy,

    I am 50 and I don’t remember a storm of this magnitude (I am not counting hurricanes, just dry land events) ever before in my lifetime.Every time I look at the photos my heart breaks a little. But I have to say Alabamians have really stepped up to the plate and are providing all sorts of help to the survivors, NTM all those from outside the state who are making donations and coming to volunteer with the clean-up. You can’t keep a good southerner down! ;)

  11. Uh, wondering if I should admit I’m older than Angie, and that I grew up in tornado country, which is the middle of America? I don’t ever remember this kind of storm system. Of course we can ask NB, who grew up in my neck of the woods and now lives in a state known for tornadoes. NB?

  12. You are not THAT much older than me, Frenz . . . we aren’t gonna pull out the prune juice and the walker just yet for you. ;)

    Yeah, even though a tornado could strike pretty much anywhere here, we have a couple of true tornado alleys in this country, the one you mentioned in the heartland and down here it’s called “Dixie Alley.”Watching that massive storm moving towards us on radar on the local TV channels was chilling, especially as we heard of the deaths and damage along its path. But it saved its best punch for Sweet Home Alabama. Two of the tornadoes were rated F-4 and F-5, which as as bad as it gets–winds up to 205 MPH.

    I sincerely hope I never, ever see anything along these lines again. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

  13. I feel a post coming on. Finally, after these many days. :D

  14. Sorry I’m tardy in answering this, Frenz, but I took 2 GDaughters for our annual “Greenhouse” outing and just got home! 6 down and 2 to go w/2 waiting in the wings for next year. Speaking of age, MAN!!!, I’m pooped and I have plants to plant yet.

    In looking back on all my years in Texas, I never experienced a tornado…that I knew of and haven’t been thru one personally here either. BUT, having kept one eye on the skies and one eye on the basement/cellar for quite a time now, I offer a tad of info. Bear in mind, I don’t claim to be an expert. The big factor in all this is population density. Where the AL storms hit, there was probably 100 times more people and houses and buildings….even tho it may have been an EF4, it had lots more to tear up there. The Greensburg storm was an EF5 (205 mph winds) and was 1.7 miles wide on the ground. The devastation left behind it was equal to a bomb going off. But since the town was small and the tornado was on the ground a shorter distance than the Tuscaloosa tornado and the KS folks had ample warning and took cover in basements and cellars, very few people were killed or injured. I think there were 13 fatalities listed. It has been said that had they not had the time to take shelter, quite possibly everyone in the town could have been killed. The same storm system that night produced 123 separate tornadoes from the same supercell.

    I had been tracking this storm most of the afternoon into the night and had a sense that it could be a monster. When you see that hood forming on the radar, your blood runs cold, right Angie? It formed about 40 miles to the south of us and came in from the west (the Rockies). The sky turned black. Literally. And you know when that happnes in these parts you’d best holler for the kids to come in, batten down the hatches and pray. I spent most of my time watching the skies, with the TV and radio and computer updating every few seconds. My job at that point was to get all of the men in from the fields. Thank goodness for cell phones!!! My phone was ringing off the wall/out of my pocket w/hubs, sons and DIL’s calling. By the time we saw that it was going to miss us,eveyone was home and it was entering Greensburg and holy you know what was breaking loose.

    Altho that tornado was not visible to us, the storm itself was and we got some rain out of the deal. In 1991 we had one about 3 miles south of our house. I saw it coming in from my front porch (yeah, I live out there pretty much all spring!) and got everyone to the basement. But it was weird because it was white…not the usual black you think of. It looked like it was on the ground but maybe it wasn’t. I didn’t really care. I was headed for the basement!!!!

    The EF5s are horrendous..we had one touch down in my hometown in central TX but it wasn’t on the ground long. There have been numerous ones east of ushere in KS, altho at the time I think they were F4’s. A small but deadly one touched down right on top of my hair lady’s mobile home in 06. Totally wiped them out. They escaped by running to his parent’s basement across the road.

    All that to say, these dudes are deadly. And depending on the wind velocity, the path width, the total miles of the path and how many times the thing touches down and how long it’s down…that’s what can really causes the havoc. Unfortunately, AL, TN, Mississppi (why can’t I ever remember the abbreviation for Mississippi?), suffered huge damage due to the higher populated areas.

    Still awake?!! =0) Off to read the new post…

  15. I think there is an erroneous belief common out there that tornadoes do not ever strike urban areas. Obviously, this wasn’t the case last week, when it hit both Birmingham and Tuscaloosa–as you say, Deb, densely populated areas where there were more potential victims. The size and slowness of the system–a mile wide and something like five miles long–combined with more people and structures in its path was simply a recipe for disaster. I think there is something like 100 million dollars worth of damage just in Tuscaloosa. And we now have 39 out of 67 counties elegible for disaster relief.

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