My sweet home Alabama is reeling from the devastation from the tornadoes that struck our state on Wednesday. There has been much loss of life. The news reported today that the destruction was worse than Katrina. So many are homeless and displaced. The images are grueling...it's even worse in person.
I have a home in Tuscaloosa that has definitely sustained damaged, but I am uncertain how much. From aerial photos (top is before, bottom is after) I can see the structure is there, but parts of the roof is missing. I am lucky...the buildings behind it are leveled and the homes on either side have major structural damage. Oddly enough, my sons loaded up their belongings on Monday in a U-Haul truck and came home on Tuesday with it. Not only were their possessions spared, but their lives as well. I am counting my blessings. The house is just "stuff." My sons can't be replaced. My boys have been inalterably affected by this disaster. They still have missing friends...their hearts are broken. One son will leave tomorrow to be a shelter nurse in Tuscaloosa; the other will leave on Tuesday to help with the clean-up effort. I am proud of their commitment to service.
Here in my city, we were spared the brunt of the storm, but unfortunately the northern part of my county was not. It is very rural and search and rescue teams are still pulling bodies out of homes and dragging the lakes and rivers for missing people. I will be helping with efforts here by gathering clothing, non-perishable food, toiletries, etc. for those in shelters. Our church disaster team is hard at work with chain saws and heavy equipment helping clear roads and get to houses.
Please, please pray for the state of Alabama. It looks like a war zone. About half the state still does not have power. What water is available may not be safe to drink. Rural areas on well water have no water at all because of lack of power. People affected by the power outages can not leave because gasoline is unavailable and even if it were, there would be no power to pump it.
My heart is heavy because of the death, destruction, and displacement here in Alabama. However, I am so proud of how our citizens have stepped up and made helping a priority. Affected people haven't screamed for attention and haven't demanded government help. They are counting their blessings for being alive and depending on friends, family, and faith based groups to help get them through this disaster. We take care of our own here in Alabama.
Despite everything, God is still in control and there is beauty in ashes. The song "Praise You in this Storm" by Casting Crowns really says it best for me.
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm