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Tornado update
msauvage purple
So... I've been sick and really rundown and occasionally waking up in the middle of a cold-medicine half-dream to realize I'm talking to people who aren't there. I'm doing my best to be coherent and organized about this, but... well.

Okay. I have a series of visuals for you. This is one of the aerial shots my mother emailed to me, taken over the Birmingham/Jefferson County area on 4/28. Keep in mind: this isn't even the worst of the destruction, by far--this isn't Tuscaloosa, which was half wiped off the map with $100 million worth of damage.

Okay, now imagine 178 of those, all over the South. Everywhere you see red on this map, imagine that scarred-up swath of nothing.


shesnotallthere has been posting updates on utilities and road openings from the Tuscaloosa area over the last several days. Yesterday, she wrote,

Seven days ago, a large tornado wiped out half of my hometown.

I have traveled down University Boulevard in Alberta nearly every day for over 30 years. When I drove down that street the day after the tornado, I got about halfway down and had to stop...I couldn't tell where I was. On a street I know THAT well. That is how total the destruction is. There are no landmarks left, nothing familiar. Just piles of rubble that used to be stores and homes that were built before I was born.

I cannot describe to you the feeling that overcame me then. To be in your own home and yet recognize NOTHING around you...it was terrifying and heart-breaking and it was one of those moments that seems like it *just shouldn't be possible*.

And the PEOPLE. People who lived there were just wandering the streets. Wandering and crying, mostly. Just walking from one pile of rubble to the next and telling each other, "My house was RIGHT HERE yesterday."

There are forty people dead. Forty people who were here, RIGHT HERE, last Wednesday. Now they're gone. I can only imagine how many people are having to relearn how to navigate the world in their absence.

@spann: For those not understanding our suffering, this video tells it all RT @heychandler: http://bit.ly/kgXUpE  #WeAreAlabama

Pleasant Grove is a suburb of Birmingham, mind you. This is what my part of town dodged.

For a few days there, my mother was coming home with stories from a coworker who lives in Moody. She is really, really insistent that I tell y'all about this, but you can skip to the next paragraph if you want. The first two stories are kind of shocking but end well; the third one's sad. 1) Two black labs were picked up by the tornado and flung up into the (dead) power lines, where they got stuck, apparently just... hanging there. But other than, you know, that, the dogs were fine, though neighbors had to climb up and cut them down from the tangle of wires. 2) A husband and wife ran upstairs to their children's room, to grab their two young boys. The wife was able to grab the younger boy on the bottom bunk; the husband got the older boy, about six or seven years old, I think, but the tornado tore the roof off and sucked the boy away, right out of his hands. Afterwards, they found the little boy, alive, a hundred yards away. 3) I keep trying to write this one out, and I'm having a hard time making myself do it. One of the older neighbors sat up all night with a woman's body, wrapped up, on the porch, because rescue teams had enough body bags but not enough transport to take them all back with them. And the neighbor said, "I don't want the strays to get her." So he kept a vigil over it, on the porch, all night.

I don't really know how to segue from that.

@lillie_80: A FB page is trying to reunite mementos of storm victims with their owners http://bit.ly/iRgYVS (some pics were blown more than 100 miles)

@newmediajim: Man searching through the rubble of his restaurant here in Tuscaloosa. He cheered when he found a bottle of vodka. :) http://yfrog.com/h31niccj

@griner: Photo: Part of the fleet of utility trucks working w/ @alabamapower to restore service. http://plixi.com/p/98334680

@jsandford: In 6 days, @Alabamapower has restored power to a population slightly greater than size of the entire city of Miami.


With torpedo[e]s, no less.

@marcusgilmer: Wait.... WTF? RT @finebaum: Charlie Sheen visits Tuscaloosa's recovery efforts after tornado. http://www.twitpic.com/4sd5go

@cleolinda: Also, I heard that Charlie Sheen is organizing a celebrity baseball game to benefit Tuscaloosa. I am PRETTY sure I did not hallucinate this.

@cleolinda: There's so little news coverage of the multi-state tornado devastation... maybe an attention-monger is exactly what we need right now.

@cleolinda: 450 people are still missing in Tuscaloosa. You monger us up some attention, sir. You monger the shit out of it.

As of this writing, there are now only 13 missing in Tuscaloosa; everyone else has been accounted for, better or worse.

@moirarogersbree: One easy thing to do from a distance is donate to the AL Food Bank: http://bit.ly/m9JNmb

You can also still text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10.

@rosannecash: This is so easy- Amazon has a 'needs' list for tornado victims; you can buy and they will ship: http://amzn.to/mj6lLI

@SmartBitches: Want to send new bras and underwear down South? Email me for shipping address. Deets: http://is.gd/4Hd4si

@SmartBitches: I have messages about cases of mini shampoo, underwear, coloring books and other needed supplies heading south. SO AWESOME. #wearealabama

I've helped a little with organizing on YA Highway's Help Write Now auction blog; proceeds will benefit all affected areas, not just Alabama. I was looking into getting a fandom auction community set up, but helpthesouth got going before we could, so you can pitch in over there if you would like. Both YA Highway and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books have been completely awesome in terms of jumping in and trying to get things done, as well as all the writers, editors and agents of all genres who have donated auction items. (So far I've seen critiques, Nooks loaded with e-books, signed books, custom jewelry and at least one knitted pig.) Please let me know if you'd like to donate items--the form is here. And thank you for everything. It means a lot.

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Those first two stories made me smile but the third one made me tear up.

I haven't been able to donate any money for this and the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan because I couldn't afford it. Luckily I just got a job. A portion of my first paycheck will go to both efforts.

*hugs you*

Thanks. Honestly, just telling people about it and linking to the Help Write Now blog would help. This has not been the easiest couple of weeks in the world to get news coverage.

I did the Amazon thing. That's an awesome idea and way to implement it.

Ooo! You can also buy them Amazon gift cards for any amount. It's on page 3 of the wishlist.

I'm touched that humble Petunia the knitted pig got a mention with all those great items.

It's just so much to take in. I fear the other parts of the country will forget the South's devastation.

Both of my daughters' schools here in Roswell (GA) are doing supply drives - one school is sending to Tuscaloosa, one to Ringgold. It feels like drops in the bucket, but I figure people can use clothing, food, and water. At my younger daughter's preschool, I saw one mom dropping off 150 lbs of dog food plus regular human food.

Once again, just too much.

OH - a note about the Amazon thing - I just realized that items in the wishlist might be Prime Eligible - check for items "offered by Amazon.com". So I got a couple more items that will ship 2-day, for free. They get it faster, I save $ and can buy more for them. That's a good thing!

Take care of yourself Cleolinda.

The Amazon one is kick-ass. Brb, sendin' Alabama some foodz.

Hope you feel better, Cleo. (I keep giggling at how bemused the dog in the powerlines must have been. "Now how did I get HERE?")

Oh, jeez, that damage map....

We haven't heard from my relatives since the tornadoes happened. According to that damage record, they're in one of the heavily-damaged counties. You are not making me feel better, map!

Where do they live? I might be able to track down some info.

This month is financially tight for us but I just saw all the baby items on the amazon list and my heart broke a little.

Speaking of stories, I want to give big props to RBC Bank.

They knew it was going to be hard for their Tuscaloosa employees this week. They're already shaken and now they're hearing a lot of tough stories from their customers. So, RBC brought crews up from BALDWIN COUNTY for support. If a T-Town teller needs to take a minute after talking to a customer, a Baldwin county teller steps in and takes over. The Baldwin county folks are also doing all the paperwork, to give their T-Town coworkers some breathing room.

Who'd have thought I'd ever say that I'm proud of my *bank*?

Thank you so, so much for these posts and your tweets. I've been retweeting the shit out of you and blowing up my facebook with posts trying to get people to care and donate (I live in MI so most people are like, Wow that is such a tragedy! But they don't really then DO anything about it). I've posted the Smartbitches links (and had someone take me up on the address I got!) and the Amazon donations links and I've done Red Cross donation reminders every few days. I texted for the $10 and this weekend (yay pay day!) I'm going to ship some supplies out there.

I wish I could do more...I have friends and family that live down there and weren't hit by the tornadoes (though it was close) and they know people who have lost homes or the places they worked. It's just so devastating that this is SO NOT a national issue. Like, come on, Royal Wedding? PEOPLE ARE DEAD.

Thank you so much. Honestly, I found the royal wedding to be kind of heartwarming and adorable--a chance to see how life moves on beyond an awful moment and there is hope, there is the future, you know? When you think about it in the scope of "unhappy marriage, tragic death, son's happy marriage." I found it kind of comforting. What I really blame is the inability of our media and/or culture to focus on more than one thing at once. in addition to any kind of material help people can--or can't--give, just talking about it helps, just making sure people know what happened and that it's still bad out here.

Ugh, all of this is just awful. Over at UGA we had a tornado warning and all had to get in the dorm hallways but we fortunately weren't hit.

I have lots of friends at Alabama though, so I've been trying to help out however I can. One of the sororities here on campus opened up there house this week for people to drop off donations to send over to Tuscaloosa. One girl I know at Alabama was close friends with one of the students killed.

The whole thing is just awful.

@cleolinda: There's so little news coverage of the multi-state tornado devastation... maybe an attention-monger is exactly what we need right now.

This was actually my thought as well. This needs and deserves more coverage, regardless of what else is going on. It's always the little stories of grace that gets to me, like the third story. I'll do what I can, donation-wise. *hugs* I hope your cold improves soon.