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Remembering April 27, 2011

April 27, 2011 is one day that not many in Alabama will ever forget.  That day changed life in Tuscaloosa as we knew it. Some people lost their homes, some lost loved ones, some lost  businesses and jobs, and others simply lost peace.  I don’t there has been a threat of inclement weather ever since that hasn’t had area residents on pins and needles.

I wish we could all go back in our minds to that fateful day. If anyone remembers, another tornado swept through West Alabama early that morning, flattening a community in Coaling.  Unaware, I was driving to work at the time that that tornado was coming through.  Back then, I was only working half days because I’d had my daughter in February and returned to work two weeks later, saving my maternity leave for the time that she’d be home from the hospital.  (She came home on March 28, 2011.)

After I’d gotten to work, I received a call from my boss, telling me not to travel in those conditions.  I informed him that I was already in and that I’d take cover.  After a while, the winds calmed.  It wasn’t until later that I learned that one of my college suitemates lost her home that morning.  However, the more looming prediction remained:  The worst is yet to come!  Despite doctor’s orders, I stayed at work a little longer, making sure I gathered as much information to disperse as possible. When I was sure I’d done as much I could to prepare everyone, I went home to be with my baby.

I kept up with the weather reports from home and began to become nervous as I saw the massive circulation moving into the area.  I often think back to that day, and I remember thinking that come hell or high water, I would not let go of my daughter.  I’d often joked with my mom and said that if a tornado came, they’d find me with my arms wrapped around the toilet.  I’ve seen numerous homes destroyed, but for whatever reason, the toilet always stayed put.  So, I said that’s where I would be.  However, with this storm coming, for whatever reason, I felt like I was going to die in it.  I began to pray and asked God to spare me and my child and told Him that if He did, I would live for Him and share my life as a testimony for anyone that may face the things I’ve endured.  I just couldn’t imagine seeing my daughter at the hospital for 7 weeks, praying with her daily, and then having her home for a month and losing her.

I guess it goes without saying that we’ve survived.  Once we were able to leave my mom’s (that’s where I was staying because she’d had surgery a few days before my daughter was released fromt he hospital), it was getting dark.  So, we couldn’t really see the destruction.  At that time, we were more focused on making sure our family members were ok.  I had one cousin whose family lived in Holt.  We tried calling them for hours before we were able to reach them.  Everyone from out of town had watched the storm coverage and could call us, but we couldn’t call each other.  So, we ended up using relatives from other places as points of contact. They were alive, but there home was damaged, and they had to live elsewhere until it was repaired. 

Unfortunately, due to the loss of electricity, I had to give my daughter powder formula, as I was no longer lactating AND her regular formula had to be refrigerated.  On May 2nd, she was admitted to DCH and ended up at Children’s Hospital ICU with meningitis.  So, during much of the immediate recovery, I was at the hospital.  Because she was in ICU, I wasn’t allowed to stay with her overnight.  So, I drove back and forth every day and assisted wherever I could when I was in town.

You can tell from my posts that I’ve kept the promise I made to God. While it’s easy to remember the destruction, but two years later, the subsequent unity that spread across the city seems to have been lost.  Some areas appear to have been forgotten as having been decimated while others flourish.  The racial lines that disappeared that day as we all looked to each other as brothers and friends have subtly reappeared, except for with anything pertaining to The Crimson Tide. It’s amazing how we’re one seemingly only in times of despair and when it comes to football.  It sure would be nice to have that same oneness on a daily basis and not have to look at the weeks following April 27, 2011 as “The Unity that Once Was.”

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