Thursday, April 28, 2011

Heartbroken, Devastated, and How You Can Help

Some of you know and some of you don't, but I have been blessed for the past six years to live in the wonderful city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  If you've watched the news at all this morning or last night, that name should ring a bell.

Last night, around 5, a F5 tornado one mile wide tore through Tuscaloosa.

As I sat in a saferoom with 8 other people 5 to 10 miles away from the tornado, I was the most scared I have ever been in my entire life.  We had watched the massive tornado rip through Cullman, Alabama earlier in the afternoon, and couldn't even imagine that happening to our town.

It's one thing to see it on the news in another city, another state.  It's a whole other thing entirely to hear reports of "total devastation" in YOUR town.

For some reason we're pretty much a tornado magnet sitting here just 45 minutes from Birmingham, Alabama.  And we're no stranger to tornadoes.  April 15th of this year we had a tornado rip through the south part of our town.  But it wasn't like this.

To put it in perspective, the cottage I used to share with my sister is roughly where that arrow in the picture is.

This is Forest Lake and 16th Street E.  I lived on Forest Lake and 19th Street E.

A sweet friend and her husband (our church's neighborhood missionaries) visited the site last night to pass out water and clothes.  This is what she said to me...

"All roads impassible.  Having to use dozers to clear roads.  Talked to a police officer at Rec Center and he said there are more than 15 dead because he pulled 9 himself and in Rosedale[a government housing project] there were so many dead that they just marked them and set them aside. It's really bad... People can't even get out to get home to other counties, not even by the interstate. Only two gas stations open in all of Tuscaloosa; everyone coming to Northport."

My heart breaks when I hear this because this is my town.  I know these people.

If you haven't seen it already, please watch this video.  I don't think the person should have been in their car that close to the actual tornado, but I was with a friend in this area just Tuesday night for a Stella & Dot show.  Now it's gone.

I would hope that your first response to seeing something like that would be to pray for anyone and everyone that was in that monster storm's path.  Apparently it crossed four states (Alabama, Georgia, and then North Carolina and South Carolina).

I would hope your second response would be "How can I help?"

The prayers are much needed.  The estimated death toll is 128 in Alabama, and that is before workers had daylight to search the debris.

We also need blood.  I've heard reports of a blood drive today in at Northridge Fitness in Tuscaloosa.  I don't know that for sure, but I do know that our local Red Cross location was directly in the path of the tornado yesterday.  The Red Cross released a statement and you can read it here.

Also, our University of Alabama Student Rec Center has been set up as a shelter for those without homes.  They are in desperate need of toiletries, pants, and undergarments.

If you would like to send a care package with some items, please send me an email at thislilbirdie at gmail dot com and I'll provide you an address.

Today, it's not about what team you root for or where you graduated from college.  It's about human life and helping others. I hope you'll find it in your heart to help my beautiful city, because God knows, we need it.

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