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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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I've read your blog for a while now, but I rarely comment. Anyway, I live in Ohio, and we haven't had a lot of coverage about the tornadoes in the South, how bad it is, or how to help. I respectfully request your permission to link to this blog on facebook so that my friends can see it and understand.

I only saw a handful of posts last week, and then everyone forgot apparently. I think your site is a good place to go for information and links to other places.

Thank you.

Oh, absolutely. Thank you for wanting to spread the word.

The story that touched me the most was about the woman who runs a guinea pig and rat rescue from her home.


She and her daughter and their dog were badly injured, although all have been released from hospital.

They were heartbroken at the thought of all their little furry babies, so the husband began searching that night. Then a 3 pound miracle - they found the bossy female piggy alive and well, hiding under a scrap of fabric from the sewing room.

In total now, they have found 5 piggies and 5 rats alive - one rat is badly injured but now stable - the rest were hungry and scared but happy to be found. "Holly, one of the newest Weaver Pigs, was so pleased to be found that she wheeked and wheeked hard enough to make her ears flap." Of her personal pets, one rat and one piggy still remain unaccounted for, and also a cage with 5 rescued ratties in it

I heard the second story on NPR. They interviewd the father and he described feeling his son just disappear from his arms and then the house collapsing on him and the rest of his family. I was so happy that his son was found alive and relatively unhurt...and he (the father) sounded so calm during the interview, whereas I was completely choked up. Amazing.

One thing to note: while it's really easy to text to donate to the Red Cross, they (and other charities when you text to donate) don't actually get that money for up to two months. So in emergency situations, it's often better to go to their website and donate directly, because then they get it immediately and can use it when they need it the most.

It just kills me how the media has forgotten the South. I know Osama's death is a big deal, but jfc. Time magazine had a two page spread, of one photo, with a short caption, in the Royal Wedding special issue. THAT'S IT. There's nothing about recovery or the deaths (which has increased since the little bit they did say about it) in this week's issue. I watch cable news every morning and night and, unless I missed it, there hasn't been a damn thing said about it at all in the past couple of days.

The tornadoes seemed to hit all around me, I got very lucky. My mom grew up in Ringgold, went to school there and a good portion of it is just gone. My cousin lives in Cleveland (he's fine), my other cousins live in Flintstone (they're fine, just some down trees and one fell on his truck), and two of my closest friends were in in Red Bank, TN. They got lucky too, especially the one whose apartments are about five minutes away from where a tornado touched down and traveled for 2 miles.

Cleo, could I link to this on my facebook, please? I've already linked to it (or another of your posts) on my LJ, but I want to reach a wider audience...

I'm so glad you and your family are okay!!

And thanks for linking to the Amazon donation thing - I'll donate food through that once payday comes. :)

I just linked to this on Facebook as well. I live and go to school in Atlanta; the tornado that hit Atlanta in '08 touched down no more than ten blocks away from the dorm I was living in at the time. They just finished rebuilding the Westin hotel at the very very end of 2010; frankly, Atlanta walked away from that tornado pretty damn lucky. It breaks my heart to read about those who weren't so lucky in 'bama. I'm so glad to know you're okay, and I'll do what I can to spread the word.

As of yet, it is still really hard to get any sort of intel in and out of the immediate tornado zones (no phone, no internet, even cell-phones are still a bit of a gamble), so signal-boosting will be vital until the lines of communication return. Thank you so much for doing this, Cleo.

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