I have lived in northeast Alabama for more than 50 years. We have been ravaged in local areas … but not like April 27. I find my fingers still tremble on the keyboard as I write this personal experience.
My sister and I were at a local restaurant having a leisurely lunch. The sky was an ominous gray, but that is not unusual in this area. As we continued our lunch, things I have noticed in my years began to change.
Earlier, as I said, the skies were gray … suddenly … in an instant, no birds in the air. The poplar trees across the road had been whipping about, showing dark green tops and light green bottoms of leaves that look like coins of silver floating in the air. They suddenly became still.
I have yet to see on film or television the color of the sky that tells you to move … and move quickly. The sky becomes your nemesis. The color and contour of the clouds change to a sheeted villain – an ugly medium green with yellow fringes. Perhaps these are straight-line winds, but within them are funnels. We left the eatery and were heading to my apartment. Many funnel clouds were teasing us on the way, but fortunately, none touched down in our presence.
When we got to my apartment, I still had electricity and TV weather was showing plow after plow of tornadoes purging the earth of life and property. My sister went to her home.
The power went out. Of course, this has happened before and was quickly rectified … not this time. Four days of no power. All perishable food ruined. Storms continued as the dragon licked the sky with a lightning tongue and bellowed in the distance.
Then comes night. A curfew from dusk to dawn. Martial law. I sat in total silence with my handgun and an LED lantern.
My mind wandered to days of old when electricity was nowhere, but I thought at least they could hear the crackle of the fire.
The power has now been restored now, rolling power at times. Our problem was superseded on the news by the assassination of Osama bin Laden, so I don’t know statistically the official death nor destruction toll.
I do know corpses were found in trees. More than 300 in our area are dead or missing … 500 or so in Tuscaloosa. It may be sometime before we actually know. When TV was on, they showed three tornadoes on the ground at the same time.
I don’t intend to move. Mother Nature or our Supreme Being will know where you are … regardless. If it’s your time … God help you.
Addendum: It is now May 10, 2011. The Mighty Mississippi is raging and thousands of people are homeless. The river is supposed to crest in a few hours. The expanse of the raging torrent is, according to CNN, the length and breadth of the country of Italy.
Catastrophic flooding will take weeks or perhaps months to recede. It never subsides: “It” being an angry assault by natural occurrences. What can we do but tolerate and survive the best we know how?