For Spring Break my freshman year of college, I went to Tuscaloosa, Alabama with 7 other Skidmore students to help with the aftermath of the tornadoes that had occurred a year earlier. When we got there, what we saw was beyond devastating. Homes were still destroyed and had not been put back together, trees were crushing cars that had been sitting unmoved for a year, and orange juice still sat on the tables of houses with their roofs torn off. We worked with an organization called Project Blessings and spent our week painting, organizing, and cleaning a house and a church gym that had been turned into a rec center and clothing closet. We stayed at a camp owned by Habitat for Humanity and throughout the week the following story made its way to us: The Habitat volunteers who we were staying with were building a house for a man who lost his entire family in the tornado. Upon hearing that the tornado was coming through, he put his wife and two children in the bath tub, one of the safest places in the house because it is grounded. He couldn’t fit, so he stood in the doorway, putting himself in more danger than his family. After the tornado came through, the man was still alive, but all three of his family members were dead. This story was the most devastating one I heard, but it was only one of many. What we did in Tuscaloosa may have had a small impact, but it did not by any means fix the problem.
Last night, three years and one day after the tornadoes of 2011, some 58 tornadoes hit the south, tearing through Alabama and Mississippi. At least 28 people have died over 6 states due to these storms, and the storms may not be over yet. Many areas are still on alert to harsh weather conditions, which could only up-end even more lives. For an area that was only just beginning to recover, these storms are heartbreaking. The people affected by these storms are our neighbors, our friends, and our family. Sending support in any way we can is not only a nice thought, it is necessary. The least I can do from Africa is to keep Alabama and the rest of the south in my thoughts for these next few days, but who knows, maybe I’ll be back next spring break.
Photos from Spring Break 2011
For more information on the tornadoes, hit up Google, or check out these sources: