The Fury of the Storm

By now, we all know of the string of tornadoes that ripped through Alabama and the Southern States on April 27th.  We can count the number of funnels that touched down.  We can put numbers to the death toll.  We can state the cost of damage.  Each one of them is a story.  A person with a name.  A home.  Community.  Life. 

On the morning of 9 April 1998, a tornado raced across Ft. Stewart, Georgia.  I remember huddling down in the hall, wrapped in the comfort of my mothers arms, alongside my brother and sister, as we heard the wind ripping through the trees and past our house.  We were lucky. 

The tornado left the base in ruins, hitting motor pools, the parade field, ripping apart bleachers and sending them into and through trees.  It veered and missed going down our street, taking out the lemon lot before jumping over the hospital and hitting the empty barracks. 

While several soldiers were injured, there was only one fatality. 

That day is still etched in my memory.  I can still remember how my mother shared her pot of coffee with the neighbors as they surveyed the wreckage around us (ours was the only one set early enough to brew before the tornado cut off the power).  I can still see the metal benches from the bleachers twisted up in the trees, some piercing through trunks and the trees and limbs that littered the road. 

I don’t share that story to belittle the accounts of survivors across Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, but to remind us that we can watch the videos and comment about how bad it is from the comfort and safety of our homes, yet there are stories of survival and of hope throughout this disaster. 

We are distanced from it, until we realize how close to home it hits.  I have friends that were in the path of these storms.  I know people who witnessed its strength and fury.  Most of us know someone who was affected.  And it’s in those moments that we realize how close we are to the story. 

On Wednesday (27 April) we (AmeriCorps NCCC team, Sun 6 based out of Denver) received the call that we were being called up for Disaster Response in St. Louis, after it got hit by the tornado(es) on Friday (22 April).  That same night, we found out about the storms in Alabama when one of the members on the team received a call from a loved one who had been hit by the storms, then could not get ahold of their family. 

The next morning, we found out that our team members family was safe, nothing that could not be replaced was lost.  And we began packing our Spike Housing to depart for St. Louis for clean-up.  Or Southern Missouri due to floods.  Or to Alabama for Disaster Response.  And the waiting game began for us. 

Early this afternoon, we learned that we are departing for St. Louis on Sunday morning for Disaster Response.  We don’t know much else besides what little we have been told. 

There are a bunch of rumors about the AmeriCorps NCCC response to the disaster in Alabama and the surrounding States, but nothing official has been released as far as I know. 

God Bless and PEACE

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