Last week was one of those reality checks you hope never happens in your neighborhood. On April 27 an EF5 tornado rolled along the ground from the western side of our state to the eastern, leaving an 80-mile-long swath of utter destruction in its wake.
Our publishing company sits less than three miles as the crow flies from the splintered remains that now lie as an angry scar through the heart of Tuscaloosa.
We were lucky none of our employees or immediate family members were killed or seriously injured. Thousands of our friends, neighbors and fellow Alabamians weren’t as fortunate.
But what has struck me in the days since this devastating twister turned lives upside down is how resilient and caring we are as a community.
While those in our company were pitching in to help saw trees off the homes that were standing and offering whatever help we could where we could, I saw countless others doing the same. Friends helping friends, strangers helping strangers soothe the soul.
Local contractors and landscapers were rolling in with skid steers and loaders in-tow behind pickups whose beds were filled with tools, food, water and fuel. The intensity of those relief efforts continues as I write this and they will slowly evolve into a very structured rebuild mode that will continue on for years.
Seeing such an outpouring of assistance toward others in need makes me proud that I live and work around such folks. I’m also proud to know the readers of this magazine and of our sister publications care as well, lending a helping hand with their donations of time, tools, equipment and labor where they are able.
A few of us here experienced Hurricane Katrina first-hand and know its long-term effects on the Gulf Coast. The need for outside help lasted for several years.
What this tornado did in the few few hours it took to cross our state is far worse in scope. Helping hands to rebuild are going to be needed all along the path of destruction for a long time to come. FEMA and our government will do their part.
But it’s our personal contributions of time and talent that make the real difference in how fast our own communities, and those who live in them, heal from such disasters. Give freely, take nothing in return.