As storms and tornadoes ripped through the state of Alabama today, we are thankful that my Dad who lives in Florence, Alabama is safe. He is somewhat shaken by the disastrous storm damage and the unbelievable loss of life in his state, but he is also thankful that the tornado passed without doing damage to his home and to the homes of our other family members who are scattered from northern Alabama and as far south as Birmingham.
Dad is fortunate, his house sits in front of a very high, natural bluff that provided protection when the storms rolled through. His closest neighbor who lives at the top of the bluff lost as many as eight, one hundred-foot trees as storms rolled through.
Dad happened to be out in his truck when the storm began, and when he could no longer see to drive towards home, he pulled over in a strip mall parking lot to take cover next to the building. He said the noise was tremendous, the sky turned as dark as night and he was uncertain how safe he would be as the powerful storm tore through his town. As the storm calmed enough to begin the drive home, he realized a large tree had blown down not one hundred feet from where he had taken cover.
Storms have always for some reason fascinated my father and some of my earliest memories from childhood are of my Dad standing on the lawn watching a storm roll in, and my Mother standing at the door just begging him to come in where he would be safe. At a young age, I was practically tied to Dad’s hip, and most often I would be right out on that lawn with him watching it lightening and thunder, as if it were an accepted form of entertainment. I am sure this added to Mom’s stress as she would say in her southern accent, “Jimmie (in southern Jimmmmmmmiiiiieeeee!) please, please come in!
Growing up in Indiana, known as one of the states in Tornado Alley, the state certainly did have it’s fair share of bad storms in the spring. Dad reiterated a story to me today about a time that we were all driving back towards Anderson when a tornado blew in. Dad says he was pulling our boat behind the car and literally he was driving parallel to the storm as he watched it roll into our home town. I am sure my Mother wanted to crawl under the seat, I was most likely sleeping like a baby in the back seat and Dad, in his early twenties was probably dragging that boat at high speeds to keep up with the storm.
Dad is amongst the many in Alabama who are without power now and it is estimated that it may not be restored for four to five days. This will not be easy on a guy of seventy-nine and temperatures pushing into the high eighties. But Dad is tough and he will never complain. Listening to the news as the death toll rises across those states affected by the storm is just a vivid reminder that life is precious, and it can be taken away by the forces of nature in the blink of an eye.
I am so thankful that my Dad is okay today, and our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost family members, friends, and their possessions in this terrible storm. May their wounds heal and may they somehow find peace from the act of nature that has forever changed so many lives today. Pkp