Thursday, April 28, 2011

Heart of Dixie Devastation

It has been almost two weeks since tornados stormed across the state of Alabama causing massive damage and casualties. The day started out scary with straight line winds, some upward of 100 miles an hour causing major damage and power outages throughout the state. I took Perry up the mountain to his G&G’s in a raging storm, irritated that they had not yet at least postponed school. Though I knew they were most likely thinking we would have to dismiss early due to the threat of even worse weather that afternoon. With already 6 makeup days scheduled due to the ice and snow storms from January, I knew they wanted to keep us in school as long as feasably possible.

So, on to work I went, only to arrive to a pitch black school. Our school is very old and in the first grade in particular, there are not many windows. Though kids continued to arrive, it was pretty quickly decided to close school at 10:30 due to the fact that we could not legally hold the children here since we couldn’t feed them. So, we had a very productive school day coloring and napping in the library with the little light we had.

As I drove home, I called G&G’s to check on Perry since he’s been a little under the weather lately. Grandmomma said she thought he might have an ear infection, so I called the doctor to schedule him a visit. All they had left (before closing for the storms at 12:00 was an 11:15 appointment.) “ I’ll take it!” I said, though it was already 10:55 and I was no where near my child, let alone the doctor’s office. So, I flew to pick up Mr. P and then (more carefully since I was now carrying precious cargo) flew to the pediatrian’s office. Luckily, P had no ear infection, just terrible allergies. (Thanks Grandaddy-you’ve plauged us all!)

So, after pincking up a prescription (and the delicious sucker and icee that the sweet cashier gave to Perry) we made a quick run into Subway, we headed home, ate lunch, then laid down for a nap. By the time Perry and I woke up around 5, Justin was home and the storm was already upon us. We knew it was going to be bad, but we figured we would just hunker and bunker under our stair well since we didn’t have a basement. (Sadly, at this point, we had NO CLUE how bad it was actually going to be!) Justin and I had already gathered up candles (we were unprepared with no flashlights) and cleaned out the closet so we would all, plus the two horses dogs, would have a place of safety.

About 5:30, we watched in horror and utter devastation as the F5 tornado with windspeeds beyond 175 mph tore through Tuscaloosa-home to so many of our friends. As soon as we saw it destroy Birmingham (where both my sister and mom were) and the weatherman announced it was headed to the Trussville/Pinson area, Justin looked at me and yelled “let’s go” in sheer terror. We both knew that if THAT actually came through where we were, our stairwell would come no where close to keeping our family safe. In a matter of terrified miliseconds, I grabbed my child, my Freddy, Perry’s munk-munk, my computer, phone, and most valuable pieces of jewelry (I know this seems odd, but my jewelry is so much more than glits and glammer to me. Nearly every piece I own has a beautiful story behind it and I have always reguarded my jewelry as a type of scrapbook.) and ran to the car. Justin already had it started and our two dogs were shivvering, muddy and wet, in the seats. I was so thankful that all I truly loved was in the car. I told Justin as we drove that if our house was destoyed, the only thing I would be devastated about losing would be our wedding photographs, but other family members had some, so we would be ok.

I was terrified. We flew (probably insanely unsafely) to my parent’s house about ten minutes away. It was pure craziness. There was not a soul on the road. It was the creepiest, most isolated feeling. Just a green sky, pelting rain, and debrie from the tornado falling out of the sky. It was so scary. Seeing Justin so scared really disturbed me. Though I’m not sure who was more scared, Justin or Jasper. That big thing, all 140 pounds of him, crawled from the front seat and into my lap (believe me, there’s no stopping a terrified Bull Mastiff) sopping wet and muddy, shivering and whimpering the whole time. And then there was me, crammed in between the carseat and the car door, absolutely unable to move.

We pulled up to Mom and Dad’s and Justin ran the dogs in one at a time while I unbuckled Perry. Then, I threw Perry into Justin’s arms and they ran into the basement. Me and my bad witch of the west looking self running behind.

We ended up staying in the basement until it had all blown over, though, the storms did not end until well after 9:30. It was very scary being downstairs with only the radio and poor cell phone reception. Luckily, we had the music room and a freezer full of ice cream to keep Perry entertained, though with him being scared and not feeling well, we definitely had a few meltdowns.

I was very glad for our safety, yet stayed in constant “text message contact” with my sister Melissa who was in a friend’s basement in Birmingham, and my Mother who had been called in to the hospital, also in Birmingham, earlier that day. Thankfully, both were also okay. My mom was given a front row seat to the storm through one of the windows on the upper floor where she works. Her pictures of the ENORMOUS tornado were absolutely unreal. In some parts, it was reported that the tornado was over 2.5 miles wide!

Looking at all of the pictures of the mass devastation still chokes me up. Knowing that over 340 lives were lost (one in particular being a very sweet friend’s mother) and hundreds still missing, with many, many family’s (numerous family friends) homes completely destroyed or gone really puts life into perspective. Seeing all the debris from various counties and even states in our yard is unbelieveable. I actually even saw a 4 foot board with nails fall from the sky into my parent’s backyard

I don’t know why God spaired my or my family’s lives, but I’m beyond thankful that he did. This is certainly a somber time for my state. I am certainly counting my blessings and loving on my family and friends a little more than usual. Please continue to lift the South in your prayers as it will take years to rebuild.

Tuscaloosa Tornado- This is a view from a friend's daughter's balcony.  After it came through, her daughter's arpartment complex was the only one left standing.  All the apartments you can actually see no longer exist.

Birmingham Tornado- This is the view from St. Vincent's where my mother was.

This is some of the damage near the Summit in Birmingham, AL.

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Our Adoption Timeline

  • June 19, 2011- We are officially "Paper Pregnant!" We have submitted our Waiting Child Application to Holt!
  • July 5, 2011- Submitted our formal Home Study Application to Villa Hope
  • September 6, 2011- Submitted all of our paperwork for our Home Study
  • October 8, 2011- Completed our First Home Visit
  • October 17, 2011- Completed our Second Home Visit
  • November 14, 2011- Home Study Approved
  • December 1, 2011- Filed our I600a
  • February 1, 2012- I600a Approval Letter
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