First Person: Deadly Weather Across Southern U.S. One Week Later (AL)

Pratt city, the hardest hit city in Alabama is slowly coming into terms with the loss, and looking forward to rebuilding. It’s a long road ahead, as residents sort to salvage some valuable property spared by the storms. Not much could be saved, as the nature of destruction was too much to bear.

It is human to question God about this devastation, especially if you visit the city, why He allowed such a horrific event to take place against His people. I had the opportunity to attend Bethel Baptist church this past Sunday. Reverend Jesse Jackson had been invited to be the guest preacher. The 2,000-member congregation church, gathered that morning at Fair Park arena for its Sunday service, and many were hopeful, despite their losses, that they will rebuild and be a stronger community. They were grateful for their lives. The mood was assuring; overwhelming kindness, as members smiled and hugged for comfort and relief, and some would share encouraging words of strength and hope. Although I was just visiting, I had a feeling that a majority of members came to church that morning for the first time, realizing they had their lives to be thankful for.

A number of residents shared with me their survival stories, I remember one particular resident who explained to me how he hid in a bath tub, only to see a truck fly through his bathroom, barely missing him, and a short while later, a huge thundering noise resulting from a krispy kreme truck falling on his front yard. His whole house was flattened, living only his bathroom standing, and not much to salvage. Another resident shared her story of how a body fell from the sky into her roof ‘” less living room. The stories were horrifying, yet sobering.

In his address to the state, Governor Robert Bentley announce that he has formed a Governors Emergency Relief Fund to help Alabamians with unmet needs, as they arise with the recovery efforts. He called for well-wishers to contribute to the fund saying, “We are all heartbroken by the damage our state has suffered, and now we must turn our attention to helping one another recover, we are asking for people to donate to the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund so we can meet as many needs as possible.” The ex ‘” US Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice also had a chance to tour the state, being a native of Alabama, Dr. Rice was deeply moved by the nature of devastation she saw. She toured and aid and donation center near Birmingham, where she grew up, and pledged to support the people of Alabama in every way possible.