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
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 eligibility, an 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