Last Wednesday was one of those days in the Deep South that you know it’s not going to go well. Hot, humid. School was delayed two hours because of tornado warnings. At time to leave, we went under a second warning. I would not have even taken my daughter, but I had to pick up a friend that afternoon, so I figured if things go bad, I’d pick up both girls. I have permission from the parent and grandparents to do so, so I figured if I thought it was too bad I’d just get both girls.
Around 10:30, mom called and said, “Do you want to go to lunch?” There was another wave of storms coming, but based on the speed of the earlier storm fronts, I figured I had until 12:30 to go get the girls, so I said, “Yeah we can catch a quick bite, then I’ll go get the girls.” Got a call from the friend’s mom around 11:00 and assured her I was headed to pickup both girls around 11:30ish.
Mom and I ate a quick lunch and left the restaurant and tornado sirens were going off. I turned on the radio and it was 6 miles south of me, traveling at 45 miles per hour. I drove 75 miles per hour the entire way to the middle school. I signed both girls out at 11:30 am. BUT my daughter had to go back to class to get her books. She got to me just as the lights went out. We walked by cell phones back to where I had left her best friend and sat down, just as the first tornado went over our area. It blew the doors of the middle school open. As we sat there huddled with 7th graders, the storm whipped hot air around us.
When the storm passed, I took the girls home. We had no idea how much damage was done, but light wires were down, trees. I was terrified, but our home was fine.
Soon after we got home, the best friend’s sister came and got her for the storm shelter an uncle owns. As the day and evening went own, several F4 tornadoes went over the school where #1 and #2 are in college. #2 would call and say, “We are in the shelter. We are fine. We are together.” So comforting that they were comforting each other, so terrifying that they could die together.
Then she would call and say, “Mom, we are fine, all clear. It was an F4 and it’s headed straight towards you and daddy, be careful. We love you.” How terrifying it was for my teenage children, who know exactly on the radar where our house is, to watch as those storms passed over our area.
We had at least three storms pass over our area that night. One has been upgraded to an F5. I am thankful, God protected us through the storm. The next day, lights were out in every where but one small city. It looked like the 70s with long gas lines. Only one grocery store was open. It was terrifying to wonder how long it would be like this. The best friend is homeless. So our her grandparents. The home they took shelter in was destroyed as well. But no one was hurt. We were blessed. Other areas were not so blessed. The death toil continues to rise. Last I heard it was around 300 state wide.
We spent the first day getting gas, food, (it was my grocery store day), trying to get our generator running. The second day, we tried desperately to get information for where food, water, ice would be. Also ran more errands. Our house was fine, but we’d had no power since 10:30 Wednesday morning.
On Saturday, we went out helping church friends who had lost everything. It was very hard, and bought back terrible memories of being a child and losing our home in 1974.
On Sunday, our church sent out as many crews as we could to cut down trees, offer laundry services, clean out homes. I ran the phone trying to keep people working. We had no idea where to go to get services and all we could do was love as many people we could any way we could.
On Monday, I had three homeless kids come to stay, another was without power. My daughter called all her friends who weren’t affected (if you consider no power for 6 days not being affected). We had a two day sleepover. We were planning on camping in the living room, but God sent power late that night. He knew it would boost all of our spirits. It helped because none of the 9 girls who were staying, or Hubby and I had had a hot shower in 6 days.
On Thursday, finally power was back for most of the area and the kids went back to school. Every which way we go, we hit terrible disaster areas. Subdivision after subdivision. I have more homeless friends than I can even count. It would be faster to tell you who isn’t homeless.
God has provided for the Deep South. I know most of you out there have been praying, donating food, blood, clothes. More will be needed of course, but I wanted to say, straight from the Deep South. Thank you so very much. Last week was Seven Days Near Hell… This week will be Seven days toward blessings… We love you, we are fine. God is good all the time.
The two best friends are no longer homeless and plan to rebuild. It is such a blessing to see them excited about the future. It makes me hopeful too.