It is a grim, gusty and rainy day here.
I’m writing this as we near one week since the devastating tornadoes and storms ripped through my home town and my home state.
I wanted everyone to know how much I appreciate your well-wishes and voices of concern. I was out of town when this happened. My family is fine. My home is fine. Everyone I know made it through. But I wanted to post some pictures and talk a little bit about what I’ve seen, what I’ve felt, and what I think.
My God. Why?
Like you, I saw the destruction from a distance. I saw it in the news media. The worst of the storms hit at least an hour away from where I live. Tuscaloosa, of course, was mangled beyond recognition. Other small communities, like Pratt City, have been nearly removed from the map altogether. But when I got home on Saturday night aroung 10:30, I undeniably felt the silence of the shock. It was an eerie feeling that even a horror writer cannot describe. It was the edge of something. It was the end of something. It was awesomely and horribly final.
I pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex and found huge logs piled up. I found crushed cars, as you can see in the photographs. Evidently fifteen or so massive trees went down, and many cars were demolished. My place is absolutely fine, no wind damage at all. And this is the weirdest part, and the random nature of destruction: I left two cigar butts in an ashtray on my balcony, and in all this maelstrom from Hell and the falling of trees those cigar butts did not move one inch.
This morning I took my camera and went out. I could have taken hundreds of pictures like the ones I’ve posted. These were taken in the parking lot of my complex and within two miles of where I live. Old trees were uprooted and the root systems eight and nine feet tall. Roofs were shattered. Cars slammed down so hard their tires exploded. Tangles of power lines fell to the earth, and had to be reeled out of the way so people could get to these communities to help…and let me tell you, guys, that if you don’t believe in miracles you need to wake up because the death count was way low from what it might have been and should have been in all this destruction.
Interesting picture from a local church. “Was God In The Storm?”
I will not begin to set myself up as someone who could answer that question. All I know is, for all this suffering and death and broken hearts and broken bodies…people are still moving forward with hope, even in the silence of the shock.
As I understand it, people staggered into local hospitals carrying dead children, and with their own arms and legs broken. People are still missing. The atmosphere has changed. Cell phones are not working correctly…the signals are erratic, and the voices float in and out as if you’re speaking to someone underwater. In an instant, lives were forever changed and destinies altered. And remember…I am an hour away from the main scenes of horrific carnage and absolute destruction, where entire blocks…and neighborhoods, really…were scooped from the earth and scattered before the storms.
Last night I lay in bed and listened to the wind. A soft breeze, then. In it I could distantly hear a siren. I wondered if someone’s heart had not finally taken too much, and stopped beating in the silence of the shock.
I understand also that many, many household pets are missing. Just gone. And many pets wander the streets searching for houses and masters that are no longer there.
Please pray for the people of my home town and my home state. We are suffering here, in so many ways. But in so many ways also we have come together and are starting to dig out of this. Things are forever changed, yes…but people move forward because there is no going back.
I will remember this for the rest of my life. This, again, is beyond the ability of a horror writer to describe. There are no words for this. There is no way to adequately express this, even between people who have seen their homes destroyed and their children and loved ones taken from them in an instant.
There are no words.
There is only silence.
God bless you for your help.
(Click on the images to view larger versions.)