April 21, 2011

Tragedy Strikes Again.

I would love to write about myself, or my move, or how my kids are adjusting to the thought of living life in a different country, or about how I am going to help my family adjust to a life that is going to be different  from everything I have ever known.

15:00 Saturday April 16:
     "Babe, did you know we're under a tornado watch?" I ask. I always pay attention to the weather.
     "It's supposed to be really bad." Growing up on the north eastern edge of Tornado Ally has me poised for action.
     "Alright." He's watching the baseball game so I put the baby down for a nap, and give our son a snack.

15:30 Saturday April 16:
     The sky is greyish blue. The air is still and stagnant, and the rain is falling intermittently. The neighbors across the cul-de-sac are out watching the clouds move from southwest to northeast. The wind is strong and making the tall pine trees sway impossibly from side to side. We have no idea of the devastation that is about to occur.

15:50 Saturday April 16:
     Our power is out. Yep. Nearly dinner time and the power is out. Good thing that we're smoking ribs because that's the only thing we've got thats ready.

16:00 Saturday April 16:
      The power is still out. We've played with the kids, read every story we own. (that I can stand)

17:00 Saturday April 16:
      After a split second of me thinking that I've heard the quintessential locomotive is roaring through, my panic has subsided, and the clouds have parted. The sun is shinning again. Literally.

If only we knew how close we came to total loss we probably would have been cowering in the spider infested crawl-space underneath our house. Instead we were perched precariously in our living room as though nothing out of the ordinary were happening. Little did we know that slightly more than a mile away, neighborhoods were being wiped off the map.

The border between Fort Bragg and Fayetteville has been wiped out. There is a swatch of land 10 miles in length stretching west to east, about a half mile wide that has been completely obliterated. There is nothing left. Only snapped trees, splintered lumber, and scattered brick. I have never seen anything like it before in my life. There are cars stacked on top of cars. There are businesses that have been leveled. There are schools that are closed for the rest of the year. There are people that have lost their homes, their clothes, their food, their cars, everything they have. Gone.

Does this make me selfish for worrying about what in the heck I am going to do with the crap I have sitting in my closets that I haven't used since we moved from Fort Benning? I hope not since I am giving some to my unexpectedly pregnant friend and the rest to tornado relief. Does that make me a better person?

Today we drove past the worst of the damage. To say it took my breath away is an understatement. I am probably like a lot of people at the moment. People who got lucky because of geography and who don't know how to help. My answer to them is the same as it is to myself. Give. Give to the Red Cross. Give an hour or two of your time. Give what they need. Ask what they need, and give it. These people are our neighbors, our friends, our teachers, our coworkers, and they need us now.

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