In the days since last week’s historic tornado outbreak, Alabama has exemplified the best a community can offer. It has been breathtaking. Throughout the state, from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham to several spots in northeast Alabama, those same living souls are responding en masse to help one another. It’s enough to bring you to your knees.
If these tornadoes represent Alabama’s version of Hurricane Katrina — a life-changing natural disaster that destroys everything in its path — then Alabamians are intent on countering with equal force.
It says much about who we are, and about what we value.
Here in Calhoun County, those on the front lines of the response are delivering similar stories of goodwill. The day the tornadoes ripped through the state, volunteers coalesced to lend a helping hand. Some picked up debris. Others used chain saws to remove fallen trees that tore open people’s houses or patched roofs of damaged homes. Helping hands were everywhere, abundant and ready, an army of assistants who want no praise or recognition.
What followed is a testament to people’s willingness to help. Donations have poured in: money to Red Cross and other relief agencies, gloves for workers, batteries for flashlights and radios, bottled water and food for first-responders, and clothes — thousands of shirts and pants, socks and underwear, diapers and toothbrushes for the innumerable Alabamians whose belongings were swept away by Mother Nature’s fury.
The death toll and widespread destruction have been too great for there to be a silver lining hidden amid the tornadoes’ wrath. Massive in their scope, the storms left behind damage that will take years to fix. Families are without loved ones; some are homeless. The tornadoes were savage-like in their effectiveness.
Yet, despite hardships and tears, Alabamians’ response to the tornadoes has been stirring. The world is seeing the true makeup of those among us: people who will drop everything, who will give from the little they have, to help their neighbor in need.
Parts of Alabama have been torn apart by those killer storms, but the souls of our communities are intact. We are taking care of each other, helping one another. There is no other way.