The Tornadoes of 2011

Devastation in the South
Friday, June 17th, 2011
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There are no words to express the punch to the gut received when surveying pure chaos and deadly
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wreckage. On April 27, 2011, more than 350 tornadoes touched down in our backyards and neighboring states- killing hundreds of people and injuring several thousand more.

One of our GW Community members, Caitlin Chandler, sat across the table from me four days after the tornadoes took life, home, job and so much more from so many and said, "We have to do something."  The next morning she and I headed out of town to meet a few of our hurting neighbors in Mississippi and Alabama.

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On the first leg of our journey, we followed 13 generators to Alabama; that we, along with several others, donated for relief.  In Alabama, we met up with the Red Cross and participated in a "search and rescue" procedure.  While we were walking up and down a street peering through heaps of rubble- looking for survivors- we met a little, white haired lady.   Somehow, the 200 mile per hour and 1.25 mile-wide winds overlooked her house.  She had no power and from the looks of her surroundings, would not have access to power for sometime.  She became the first recipient of a generator.  Her eyes watered with thanks.  After that, we met person after person who was touched by kindness and offered that same kindness freely to others.  We also met Melissa and Elizabeth, two sisters digging through what appeared to have once been a home.  They had buried their brother Wayne the day before- he was hurled 150 yards from his home during the storm.  Their mother had somehow survived underneath the piles of bricks and metal upon which we stood.  I have no idea how she lived.

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It fascinated me that in Hackleburg, AL and Smithville, MS, not one person stayed in the shelters provided by the Red Cross.  In each town, average population 1,000 and 1,500 respectively, more than 3/4 of the residents were homeless within seconds.  Family and neighbors in surrounding towns took in every single homeless person.

In short, I could not have imaged the wreckage created within a matter of seconds by the tornadoes.  Trees that had lived more than one hundred years were scattered around like toothpicks, concrete was ripped from the earth and entire roofs, twisted like taffy, lie in heaps miles from where they were built.  In spite of all chaos and suffering the people of these small towns were generous with what remained.  May we always remember that human kindness can survive even the deadliest storm!

(Note from the Editors)  Good News Girl and founder of Greater Works, Charity Dixon, submitted this report on the devastation of the tornadoes in the south this past spring. As tornado season is quickly being joined by hurricane season, it's important to remember the people and charities that provide devastated areas with not only supplies and equipment but also their own personal time to help those in need.  Thank you Charity and Caitlin! You inspire us!

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