Last Wednesday (aka The Day That Rocked The South)

Last Tuesday night ended for us just like any other Tuesday. After a full day of school work and gymnastics, we got the girls fed, bathed, and ready for bed. We said good night and tucked them in, praying prayers of thanksgiving for a great day. As usual, we asked for God’s grace to cover tomorrow so that we would have another good Wednesday. Little did we know how much we would need that grace to cover us, for the day would be treacherous indeed!
At 6:30 on Wednesday morning, Jonathan woke me in a rush to get the girls to the basement. He’d been monitoring the weather, and the time had come for us to move. So we woke the girls, gathered their blankets and lovies, a few toys, and tucked them back in on the sofa in our basement. Knowing there was a possibility we’d lose power, I quickly ran back upstairs to warm their breakfast. How had I known the night before to go ahead and cook biscuits and sausage and have them ready in the fridge? We also gathered our flashlights, weather radio, computer, charging stations for cell phones, and turned on the TV to our favorite severe weather coverage team, James Spann and Jason Simpson. We were banked in and prepared.
It didn’t take long for the weather outside to turn ominous. It was dark and eerie. The wind whipped the trees around, first one way and then another. We prayed silently. We waited. I prayed with the girls. We waited. This praying and waiting would become a pattern for the rest of the day.
The first big round of winds took out our power. Just an inconvenience, really, except for the fact that when the power goes, the TV goes, along with our weathermen who tell us what is going on around us. We quickly found them again on the radio, which was full of new batteries. I am so thankful for the $1 packages of batteries at the Dollar Tree. I buy them in bulk and keep them on hand, and they have saved us more than once!
The wind continued with unbelievably huge gusts. Jonathan and I would step outside on the back porch to check the winds and wonder at the ominous glow, only to run back inside with the next big gust. Eventually the storm passed and all was quiet again. The damage to us was minimal, only a yard full of debris. It would be days later when we learned that this particular storm was an EF-2 tornado which passed through Cahaba Heights (only a few streets over from us), killing one man in its wake.
Once it was quiet again around our house, and the radio coverage was reporting that the storm was moving on to other areas, Jonathan felt comfortable enough to go on to work. The girls and I actually played in the yard, picking up debris and enjoying the sunshine for a little while. I knew more storms were coming and that we would be basement-bound once again, so we enjoyed being outside while we could. We had no power anyway, so it was a welcome distraction for them and for me.
We ate sandwiches and chips for lunch. We tried to do a little school work when Patterson went down for a nap. We picked up sticks from the yard to be used for a VBS project. We made do.
We began hearing the reports of damage to areas around us. Fultondale, Gardendale, Pleasant Grove, Hueytown and Concord were all hit hard. Downtown Cullman was almost totally devastated. And while we were safe for a while, James Spann was reporting so many tornadoes in other areas, it was hard to keep up with where they all were. Once one storm would pass through our area, another would be right behind it. Around 3:00 Jonathan called to say that more really bad storms were on the way and that he was headed home to ride them out with us. I fired up the grill and grilled hot dogs so that we would have something to eat later. Can you tell that even in the face of bad storms, we don’t want to miss a meal?


The next round of storms moved closer to Birmingham and we started hearing report of the horrific damage to Tuscaloosa. When Jason Simpson reported that the Krispy Kreme on McFarland was leveled and that Taco Casa on15th Street was gone, I knew that we were in for trouble. Jonathan started making calls to friends who maintained power to see how the situation looked on weather radar. It was not good. It it was not a single storm, but rather numerous tornadoes popping up all over our area. We heard about more damage in Hackleburg and Pleasant Grove and Phil Campbell and everywhere in between. As the biggest of the day’s storms approached our area, we lost cell service. No emails, texts, phone calls! That was one of the worst feelings of all. We knew our parents in Meridian and Orange Beach would be worried, but there was no way for us to communicate that we were okay. We hunkered down with the radio for what seemed like a sweet forever. It was probably only a couple of hours.
Sometime around 7:00 or so, the really bad storms moved on through our area and we were once again in the clear. It was a crazy, scary, harrowing day! We had survived, but we were a hearing the reports about so much devastation going on around us. So many had lost their lives! I’d never heard of a tornado outbreak in which so many lives had been lost! We were thankful to be unharmed, but absolutely stunned for so many in our area. The devastation was just so complete and widespread.
We went to bed that night with heavy hearts.
When we woke the next morning, our power was still out. We began the process of putting our house back together. It’s amazing how much mess two little girls and their parents can make in one day’s time. We made several trips upstairs and downstairs lugging blankets, pillows, toys, and enough food to fill a pantry. We hauled in coolers and ice to begin unloading the fridge and freezer. We swept the countless leaves we had tracked into the kitchen. I looked over and saw this on my kitchen table:

In the midst of devastating circumstances, when so many have lost so much, the Easter lily Jonathan had given me days earlier was opening into full bloom. It was such a sweet reminder that we are not forsaken.
We are not left alone.
Not only has Emmanuel, God With Us come…
Not only was He the sacrifice for our wickedness…
But He has triumphed over death and destruction.
And He bids us to join with Him in overcoming.
Hallelujah! The victory of Easter continues…

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