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Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

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As coherent as I could manage
msauvage purple
quizzicalsphinx: "Just came out of the hardest-hit area of Tuscaloosa. My neighbourhood is completely not there anymore. This was already one of the poorest areas of town and they are going to need massive help for months, at the very least. I don't know how else to say it. It's just not there anymore."

Gawker: The Terrifying Mile-Wide Tornado That Just 'Obliterated' Tuscaloosa. 

Slate: Tornado outbreak now the worst US natural disaster since Katrina. "The death toll from Wednesday’s storms seems out of a bygone era, before Doppler radar and pinpoint satellite forecasts were around to warn communities of severe weather. Residents were told the tornadoes were coming up to 24 minutes ahead of time, but they were just too wide, too powerful and too locked onto populated areas to avoid a horrifying body count."

Obama on Alabama tornado damage: 'I've never seen devastation like this.' The current headline is, "Twister deaths now at 329, worst since 1932." The last I saw, we're at 238 for Alabama alone, with some 1700 injured, and up to a million without power, although Alabama Power hopes to have that restored to "95% of affected customers who can receive it by end of day on the 4th.".

RT @whitehouse: The President in Alabama: "We're Going to Make Sure that You’re Not Forgotten"  (Photo/transcript)

I kept trying to put together a post of some kind, but I just felt so overwhelmed. I just couldn't sustain a single train of thought very long. Which is stupid, because it passed us by. We're fine. I spent all of Thursday watching disaster coverage on TV (I hate to say it, but: Fox News had the best coverage. They just sat there for hours talking to mayors and running eyewitness videos), and then I couldn't watch anymore.

I've gone through a bewildering number of "how to help" posts, and it's occurring to me that there are two kinds of people who are going to want to help: those of us in town who want to know what we can ransack the house for and where to take it, and those of y'all who, God bless, aren't even anywhere near Alabama and just want to give something. "Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10" is the quickest suggestion I've seen, and God bless the smartphone age for it.


Cleo, could you please post that those wishing to donate to the recovery effort in Tuscaloosa can text the Red Cross at 90999 to give $10? I'm here in T-Town, and the devastation is total. Half the town is just *not here* anymore. Most of the city is still without power, several water towers were damaged so rationing is a possibility, the areas hardest-hit were already predominantly low-income areas...I cannot overstate the need for help here.

For those reading your journal that have loved ones here they can't reach: Landlines are down in Tuscaloosa and cell signals are VERY hit and miss. Power is out pretty much everywhere so charging phones and laptops is problematic. Communicating with anyone here is going to be hard. You can call the Tuscaloosa Police at (205) 349-2121 and ask them to try and get in touch with your loved one and they will do their best to find them and get them in touch with you.

Speaking of power and charging things, my laptop is about to die, so I'm gonna end here. Please, please, please Cleo readers...if you can, text the Red Cross at 90999 and donate.

If you are local--there are so many things people need. Not clothes so much, not yet, but bottled water, prepaid phones or phone chargers, pet food, diapers, baby formula, all kinds of things. My mother was saying that Children's Hospital here is filled with lost kids--children too young to tell anyone who they are or where they belong; in some of the shelters, they're getting volunteers just to keep young children calm and occupied. And, of course, blood donations are always needed. I know UAB Hospital is having a drive all weekend on the second floor of the North Pavilion. 

@alabamapossible: Updated list: where to volunteer, donate, how you can help: http://alabamapossible.org/2011/04/tornado-relief-how-you-can-help/

@deongordon: The best way to volunteer: contact Hands On Birmingham. They're emailing assignments. http://j.mp/tornadovols 

@marcusgilmer: Good clearing house to check out for how to help Alabama: http://helpalabama.com/ 

@andymboyle: Here's our Alabama Storm People Locator list. http://bit.ly/mr80rP

As well, a Facebook group for lost and found pets. 

@BettinaAla1: Here's the front page of The Birmingham News 4.28.11 http://twitpic.com/4qiyqb

Here's a look at the front page of  The Birmingham News ... on Twitpic

mermaidkween's video, shot an hour after the tornado passed: "This used to be a Hobby Lobby."

@marcusgilmer: For photos of damage from Alabama tornadoes, follow @WayneGrayson. Just stunning, devastating photos: http://bit.ly/ijPWfZ

@WayneGrayson: My story on the exodus in Alberta and the score of people who have no food to eat and no place to go http://bit.ly/kg3rH4

@griner: Driving through N. Alabama, and the damage is incredible. Not one town had power. Random buildings demolished.

@SecondFront: My op-ed column at CNN http://bit.ly/ls64GX 

We knew the threat was real when little pieces of Tuscaloosa began to drop on Birmingham. For such a violent storm, there was very little rain. Instead, paper receipts from businesses 50 miles away and strangers' family photos flitted through the air. Roofing shingles, wood paneling and strips of insulation littered yards, sidewalks and streets. All of this, and the tornado itself was still 10 minutes away.

Here's the interesting thing: that CNN column was written by someone I went to college with (he might remember me, I don't know). @griner is David Griner, a friend (through The Lovely Emily) who works in advertising and writes for AdFreak. Marcus (@marcusgilmer) now writes for The A.V. Club,  and Jerry (@WBE_Jerry) writes for War Blog Eagle. I've known both of them since freshman year of college, and they're both Auburn fans; they've both been excellent resources for links and information on this. I mention this partly to point out how strange it is to see people I know shaping the coverage of an event like this, and partly to segue to another interesting point, which is:

What y'all outside the South probably don't know is that Tuscaloosa is the home of the University of Alabama and, more to the point, its college football team, the Crimson Tide. (Both my parents are alumni, and my mother currently fangirls UA coach Nick Saban. The black-and-white houndstooth pattern you may see around, however, is the trademark of His Holiness Bear Bryant, a coach from the days of old.) Their sworn enemy, the Hatfield to their McCoy, is the Auburn Tigers, who they face each year at the Iron Bowl. This is pretty much the fiercest rivalry in college football, if not in all of American football, amateur or professional. It's gotten particularly heated in the last couple of years, as Alabama won the 2009 National Championship (and the Iron Bowl, and a player won the Heisman Trophy), and then Auburn won the 2010 National Championship (and the Iron Bowl, and a player won the Heisman Trophy). And then, after months of vicious fan arguments over an Auburn quarterback's eligibilityan Alabama fan poisoned Auburn's victory trees. I don't know if that makes any sense to y'all or not, but that's what happened.

So there has been a huge outpouring of aid and support from Auburn, because a game cannot exist without an opponent, and Auburn's eternal Enemy Mine is the Tide, and no mere act of God will take that away from either of them.

@marcusgilmer: After Univ. of Alabama rallied to support Auburn after Toomer's tree incident, Auburn now rallies to support UA: http://on.fb.me/lfOy5a

@wareaglereader: Groups from LSU, UCLA en route to assist Toomer's For Tuscaloosa. Organizer says donations received from The Netherlands: http://j.mp/kyOinA 

@AUGoldMine: Toomer's for Tuscaloosa Auburn-Alabama united logo sticker. $10. http://yfrog.com/h2v5dujj Proceeds go to Red Cross http://etsy.me/kfLW9n 

@WBE_Jerry: AUsome. RT @TylerHNay: AU emergency blood drive had to stop letting people in. Last count was 208. Goal was 90. http://twitpic.com/4r4exv 

@mixonau: We are still collecting items for Birmingham and Tuscaloosa at Logan Square if you want to drop some things off today.

@aldotcom: The popular Toomer's for Tuscaloosa Facebook page (ow.ly/4KpUt) now has a Twitter acct: @Toomers4Ttown #wearealabama

If there's anything I can add to this, or anything I can do here on LJ, let me know. I haven't heard of any fandom charity efforts yet, but will link to them once I hear.

ETA: Again from quizzicalsphinx: the toughest blog post about the aftermath that I've seen. "No way of getting to them. Nobody coming for them."

ETA: @clex_monkie89: Anyone who wants to help with setting up a help auction comm: http://clex-monkie89.livejournal.com/877988.html

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I'll do what I can, Cleo. Don't worry. :) *Huggles *hard**

Even when you're not in the direct path, just knowing people, or places, that are directly affected causes stress. I know as soon as I heard about the tornadoes, I immediately logged on to Twitter and LJ to make sure you and Lynette were okay. Even though I'm over here in Houston, just knowing that y'all were in the path was distressing.

I've put the word out to my friends (who have money) on facebook. I've linked to the Alabama chapter of the Red Cross there - alredcross.org. Seems to be one of the best ways to directly help for those of us out of state.

The thing your overwhelmed by is a network of tornadoes with a three-digit deathcount? That's pretty good.

You're probably not old enough to remember the super outbreak of 1974. I remember it well. I was a little girl, and we stayed in our basement the whole time. I was so scared. I haven't been as scared as that ever again, until last wednesday. I'm so relieved that our neighborhood was spared, but at the same time feel guilty about it. Glad you're ok.

I suppose my giggles at Auburn helping UA because they will have an opponent, damn it, can be chalked up to the fact that the destruction is too wide to encompass in my small human heart. All I can do is laugh at something.

It just kind of makes me smile, to see charity as a form of sportsmanship.

I'm an Alabama girl, too. Born in Birmingham, but I now live in Decatur. I've reposted some of your info on my LJ, too. I'm so glad we can use the internet to spread the word.

In the same thought as the Facebook pet group, there's a Facebook Group for pictures and documents found by various people.

And my thoughts with you and everyone in the area.

That's just so awesome. The power of the Internet to do good by putting people in touch with others.

Despite all the destruction I'm so glad to see everyone rallying together. When something like this happens so close to home, it's something that you'll probably never get over, but it's good to see that people are pushing past the pain to start putting things back together.

An awful F6 tornado hit my hometown over 12 years ago, and we're still not fully over it. It's hard to see things that were destroyed that weren't able to be rebuilt and it's especially hard when you see it happening other places. It just brings back all those awful memories.

Though it won't ever fully go away, just know that it'll get easier to deal with in time.

quizzicalsphinx has a more detailed post up here which really shocked me when I read it. I'll have to wait until I finally get my loan of last month but then I'll definitely donate.

I'm glad you are OK Cleolinda. Keep yourself well.


(Deleted comment)
Thank you for posting this! I just donated.


Portlight has done some GREAT work since Katrina. They're well-situated to mobilize quickly in these events.

Ugh, the quote from AL Power is devastating: "95% of affected customers who can receive it"

Yeah, that's one of those things that sneaks up on you.

Thank you for this, Cleo. What a horrible thing. My God. My thoughts are with everyone out there. Take care.

ETA: Just donated a little to the Red Cross. We made a big donation after the quake in Japan, but we can't afford to do that again right now. If anyone is thinking about it, even $10 helps.

Edited at 2011-04-30 11:49 pm (UTC)

My parents called me at 5 a.m. on Thursday and told me they'd spent the night in the basement of their wrecked house. At first light, they made their way out and tried to find a way to contact me. They met their back-to-backyard neighbor over the shattered remnants of an 8-foot stucco wall. He had a charged cell phone and managed to squeeze a call out to me. We talked for maybe 2 minutes, just long enough for them to tell me there were 5 trees on the house, it was unlivable, and to please call someone, anyone, to come GET THEM OUT. I didn't hear from them again for 12 hours. I spent the next two frantically calling family friends who lived in town. In the end, my childhood friend drove in to rescue them. She ended up parking TWO MILES away and hiking in through Alberta City, past utter destruction and a steady stream of refugees. My parents packed up enough things for a day or two and hiked back out with her. All of them later told me they saw horrible, horrible things on that walk and wish they could blank it all out. My parents are now staying with family friends across town while they try to put the pieces back together.

Oh my God--I am glad that they are now safe.