One of my sweet friends from Birmingham, Rachel, young mom and passionate blogger asked me if she could come by here and tell all of you about the horrendous aftermath the tornadoes of last week caused in the state of Alabama and I quickly agreed that she should do that. I have to admit, I was relieved that I had already moved when these storms whipped through the state, but the damage left behind is just unthinkable. That same evening, I watched in horror a news crew’s online video hover above Tuscaloosa, showing 8 minutes of complete devastation below.
Please read Rachel’s wonderful post and what she and others are doing to spread the word of how we ALL can help ease this situation. I’m definitely joining their efforts and I hope you will too.
Guest Post By Rachel of Grasping for Objectivity
I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it all.
April 27, 2011 forever changed the course of Alabama. As my family and I spent hours huddled in our basement, listening to our radio and desperately trying to get a cell phone signal, our terror turned to horror as we began to hear of the devastation that was continually being brought onto our state and the ones around it.
The largest number of tornadoes on one day in history.
Some of the strongest tornadoes in history, hitting three of the largest cities in Alabama, along with dozens of small towns.
The most deadly tornado event in history.
Quite literally unsurvivable for so many.
To try and understand the breadth of this event, I have to start small and go larger.
Here is a picture of some houses that fared much better than many:
Here is just a tiny portion of what the city of Tuscaloosa now looks like, which is the second biggest city that these tornadoes severely damaged:
Multiply that street view by this aerial view of the tornado path through Tuscaloosa (the diagonal brown stripe):
Image from www.weather.com
Then multiply that path times the 380 miles that single tornado traveled,
Then multiply it times the multiple tornado paths across our state in that one day:
What you end up with is a frightening visual of over half of our state being severely damaged by these massive and unthinkable tornadoes.
The unbelievable stories of heartbreak have made me cry, over and over again.
Parents watching their children killed and knowing there was nothing they could have done to make them any safer…
Children watching their parents killed as their houses are completely obliterated, now orphans and homeless, with no way to find help…
Entire families being trapped underneath debris so overwhelming that only the youngest member of the famliy, age five, could wiggle free and run down the road for help…
It’s really too much TO understand.
But my family was spared these tragedies, even though they occurred all around us. The thankfulness for our health and our house urges me to do all that I possibly can do to help those that were not so fortunate – because it could have easily been me.
The needs are so great and so vast – hundreds of miles of cities and towns were shredded by these storms – obviously, there is no possible way that the government can effectively reach all of these communities without the help of those in and around our state.
And that’s where the silver lining comes in: the love that has been shown from within Alabama and from outside of Alabama is amazing. People everywhere are stepping up and offering whatever they have to help. A very large part of this impact has been because of social media – blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and websites disseminating specific needs, and the community stepping up and filling those needs immediately.
Because of the unbelievably powerful impact of social media, several of us bloggers are teaming up to enable even more people be able to help in these easy yet world-changing ways.
If you’ve been wondering what you could do to make a difference, I have a couple of easy options that will make a guaranteed and immediate impact:
1. Beth from Unskinny Boppy worked with an awesome local relief agency, Christian Service Mission, to set up an Amazon Wish List of supplies immediately needed by these tornado victims. It’s a perfect way for anyone, anywhere to be able to fill specific needs and know that they are going immediately and directly to devastated families. All you have to do is click on this wish list, order the item(s) you choose, and they will be shipped directly to the Christian Service Mission. They will then transport them to the areas that need them most.
Beth’s post about how much these Amazon items are helping the victims of these storms is an awesome view into the difference that you can make with an easy and simple purchase.
2. My heart is especially breaking for the smaller communities that have hardly been reached yet. Many of these families lost everything – houses, cars, family members, and every possible way to contact the outside world for help. There are babies in these communities – with no formula, no diapers, no baby food. They need our help! To help in these communities, I set up a Paypal charitable fund – Mommies helping Mommies – that will go directly to buying formula, food, and diapers for these families. I will personally deliver the items to these communities. There is no overhead cost (I’m personally paying the Paypal fees), no agency, no expenses – just a desperate attempt to keep further tragedy from happening as a result of these storms.
If you would like any further information on how to use social media to specifically and effectively help the victims of these tornadoes, I wrote a post about it here.
And of course, your prayers for our communities as we travel down the long road of rebuilding is greatly appreciated!
Another reader, Susan, sent me this info too:
Anyone who is in the SMITHVILLE, MS area, that was leveled by an f-5 tornado that same day, that the town of Columbus is hosting a benefit to help raise funds for them on May 15, 2011 from 12-until at THE RIVERWALK in Columbus, MS. There will be more than 10 bands who have donated their time and talents for this effort.An auction will be held in conjunction! For more info they can contact me @ 662-549-5621 or 662-368-1904.