This past week has been extremely exhausting, both mentally & physically. If you haven't heard about the devastation in my state, then you are living like a nomad. Our state is hurting, closer to home, my county & town are hurting. I live in Santuck & my kids attend Eclectic schools, which is where a EF-4 tornado hit last Wednesday night. I will never forget it & neither will my children.
In preparation of the approaching storm, my husband readied the storm shelter that we have. He ran extension cord through the air vent to power a fan & the radio. He made coolers of snacks & drinks for the kids, just in case we were stuck in there for a while, you just never know. Also, the children packed bags with mp3's, DS's, etc. He also put in benches along side the walls, which made it more comfortable for everyone stuck in this concrete room in the ground.
After I got home from work, I went out & checked out the storm shelter & then went inside to change & get dinner started. I turned on the news briefly to find out that the same system that had decimated a town in Mississippi, was on it's way here. I started making dinner & just as it was done, then sirens started. Immediately, we sent the children to the shelter, then I turned on the tv & they said that the storm would be in Santuck/Eclectic area in a half a hour. I turned dinner off, covered it, made sure all kids had shoes on, grabbed my purse & Kevin's extra pair of glasses. We also grabbed a backpack full of flashlights & batteries. I was most impressed with how well we thought ahead. We have never done all this before like this. We went out in the shelter & waited. We were listening on the radio about it approaching, then the power went out and that's when we heard it. It was just over the tops of the trees a 1/2 mile across from my road. It is a sound like no other. The twister was on the ground right by my house. Thank you God for our shelter. After sitting in our shelter a little longer we came out & all you could hear at that point was sirens, lots & lots of sirens & our cell phones. People & family had heard it was in Santuck & wanted to know if we were okay. Yes, we were fine, but a phone call from my friend, who's husband is an Elmore County sheriff's deputy revealed that my neighbors were not okay & neither was my town. People were dead & they were searching for children. I cannot even wrap my brain around the feeling that I had at that point. My children were worried about their friends & teachers. We all gathered in the living room with only light from flash lights & we prayed for our town, its people & for the rescue workers that were trying to find people. Morning could not come soon enough.
We finally got the kids to bed. I made them sleep with shoes on, just in case because according to someone I talked to on the phone, it looked as if another storm was on it's way. Thank God, it turned & went another way, but we weren't sure. The kids were sleeping, but we sat on the front porch, waiting to hear anything. We waited to see if the next storm was coming & when we found out it wasn't, we went to bed ourselves. I think it was around 1:30 or 2 a.m.
The next morning the sun was shining, the birds were chirping. You wouldn't have ever known the horror of the night before, unless you went a 1/2 mile down my road, total devastation. Houses gone, trees chopped in half, six people dead, innumerable injured. All day long there was a buzz of helicopters over head, you never hear that at my house.
Later that day I drove up to view the damage... it was something I have never seen before... carpet in trees, frames of homes wrapped in trees, homes with just slabs, trees everywhere, a trampoline hanging from a power line, windows blown out, people just looking destitute, lost, tired.
We started gathering donations of food & clothing from my house. My little town of Eclectic got to the business of taking care of needs. We don't have time to wait on the government, these are OUR people, this is OUR town. The government can cut them a check later, but their needs are many & time is not our friend at this point. People still have jobs to go to, children to feed & clothe.
I took Kevin up with me to donate & there was a little boy that was at the donation drop off point that lost everything. We were told that he wanted a pair of boots & they didn't have his size. I inquired about his size. Kevin says, 'He wears the same size as me.' That seemed like the end of the conversation. We went back home, because K had soccer to get ready for, but instead of getting ready to go, he came out of his room with his FAVORITE pairs of boots & he said, 'Mom, these are that boys size that we met, I want to give them to him.' (if you aren't crying at this point, you need a heart check). We made sure that the boots got to that little boy that had nothing. We don't know his name, but that's not important. My son is my hero right now. He has no job, can't help much with the clean up efforts, but he gave what he could. He not only gave his boots, he gave his heart.
My town has pulled together & we will recover. This will forever be etched into the minds of the children. It's going to be a long road, but we will make it. My sympathies go out to the families that lost loved ones in this storm. I can't imagine. Pray for the rescue workers that night, they have seen some horrific things that they will have to live with forever.
To those of you that have donated your time, your money, your belongings, thank you.