Tornadoes wipe out part of my community

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I found this receipt from Hackleburg, 115 miles away, on our sidewalk the day after the storm.

After 5 days without power, I’m finally charging my computer and blogging about what has happened in my community and the state. And I’m asking for your help.

Tornadoes ripped across Alabama on Wednesday, from Tuscaloosa to Huntsville. While Tuscaloosa is getting most of the attention, it’s not the only place affected.

Several small towns were obliterated. Towns where I played softball, towns that I drove through on my way to Brewer State Junior College, towns whose schools I covered during my time as a sportswriter.

Communities gone. Thousands of people are left with nothing.

Part of the damage in the Lawrence County community of Mount Hope. Photo by Matt McKean/Decatur Daily

Mount Hope.
Hackleburg.
Phil Campbell.
Carter’s Gin.
Harvest.

All these places need help. So fire up your phone and text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to tornado relief here in my beloved Alabama. Or visit Red Cross to give online.

You can also donate blood; it’s a lifesaver that’s always needed.

If you live near any of these places, see what they need … bottled water, clothing, diapers, feminine products, food, tarps … and donate some goods.

Or you can sign up online to volunteer in the cleanup.

The sky just after the storm went through Wednesday night.

My neighbors and I have been sharing food, shelter, hot water (some have gas water heaters and generators), and companionship. Having wonderful neighbors has been a blessing, especially when you’ve got a bored 9-year-old who doesn’t know what it’s like to live without electricity for more than an hour or two.

We still don’t have power at my house, but there is power at work, so I’ll go back tomorrow. Two days without pay is two days too many. Riley will be with my parents until we get power back and school starts back. Ryan is without power and needs to work when he can, too.

Grilled SpaghettiOs for lunch

I am so grateful that my family and my home made it through these devastating storms this week. And I’ll be doing what I can to help my neighbors and community heal and rebuild in the coming weeks and months.

I hope you’ll help, too.

Help for Haiti

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It’s astonishing how much money has been raised so quickly to help the victims of Tuesday’s earthquake in Haiti. $5.9 million through texting alone! That’s incredible.

Kleph at Roll Bama Roll tweeted this:

Think of the last sporting event you attended. Now imagine coping with something that killed that many people. Link

That hits home. Like he wrote at RBR, remember the 92,000 who attended Coach Nick Saban’s first A-Day game? Imagine that many people gone, trapped under rubble. Imagine the family members distraught with grief, searching for any sign of their loved ones. Imagine relatives who live away from Haiti, trying to get word of whether their family is alive.

Now remember Hurricane Katrina’s devastating effects upon our Gulf Coast and the attacks on Sept. 11. Though fewer people lost their lives, the psychological, emotional and physical damage remains.

Imagine if we could raise that much money for those in need here in America. For those who have no food. For those who must choose between eating and taking necessary medications. For those children who cannot attend school. For those children whose only meal comes at school. For those who have no place but a mattress to call their own.

I’m as guilty as anyone for not doing enough to help those here at home. Let’s let this year be the year that we don’t wait for another catastrophe to do something.

Photos of a tent city constructed by survivors, top, and a young girl resting with her mother and brother at a makeshift medical clinic are courtesy of United Nations Development Programme