I’ve been glued to the television and online news outlets since last Wednesday night. That’s when my mom called from Tuscaloosa saying, “We’re watching television and a tornado is coming straight toward us.” Her next words were, “Uh oh, the electricity just went out.” As she and my sister huddled in the darkness of a pantry with no light and no connection to the outside world, I got online in west Texas to keep them informed about the storm throughout the evening via cell phone text messages.
I felt physically sick as James Spann and the excellent weather team from ABC 33/40 in Birmingham televised the horrific tornado plowing its way across the part of town where my family lived. As a weather cam mounted on the downtown courthouse filmed the carnage, it was as though this sinister storm was posing for the camera.
Watching this made my heart cry out to the LORD the words Psalm 121:1 “I will lift up my eyes to the hills, for that is where my hope comes from. My hope comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth…” Lord, please help my family and the people in the path of this horrible, horrible storm! I prayed.
I am so very thankful to the LORD for protecting my family, yet heartbroken over the images I’m seeing from the aftermath of the storm. Several times over the past 5 days I’ve found myself thinking, “I’m so glad daddy is not seeing this.”
It took almost 16 hours for us to learn that my dad’s nursing home was demolished. Even though his room was torn up, he didn’t have a scratch on him. Amazing. I attribute this to the protective hand of Almighty God. He and all the other patients had to be evacuated to new facilities. I don’t think he fully comprehends what has happened.
Nobody knew and loved the beauty of Tuscaloosa like my dad. He spent over 40 years documenting its loveliness from behind his camera as photographer for the Tuscaloosa News. He knew the county like the back of his hand.
Tuscaloosa has always been the most beautiful place on the planet in my book. Now, to see the vibrant spring green of the city transformed to the ugly neutral colors of smashed cement and weathered, splintered wood in the devastated swatch that’s cut across town is heartbreaking. The loss of property is bad. The loss of life is infinitely worse. But if there is one thing I’m thankful for at this time it’s this: daddy is in a place where he does not have to see it.
It would break his heart.