Our trip to Alabama – tornado outbrake relief

First of all on behalf of Alabama residents we wanted to thank you for your donations we collected over the last week. Special thanks to Handi-Foil (find them on Facebook) for donating four boxes of their products. We came back from our trip to Alabama where we made a small contribution to tornado relief efforts.

In the whole honesty, we were leaving Chicago with some feeling of disappointment – Why couldn’t we do more? Despite “don’t you have anything better to do” voices, we emptied our pantry, loaded all donated items, stopped by at the store to buy kids stuff (thanks again for your generous donations) and hit the road. Have you ever had “Don’t ask me why, but I just got to do this” moments? Yeah! That was one of those for me but lets get back on track.

Even outside of areas directly hit by tornado, people lived without power for over week driving to the state of Tennessee for gas, charcoal, flash lights, and other necessities (in some cases up to 140 miles one way) and standing 3+ hours to get not more than $25 worth of gas. It is hard to imagine the devastation residents of Birmingham and surrounding areas got to experience, when tornado ripped through the area. Yes, Tuscaloosa got the worst of it, but even outside of Birmingham area there was plenty of damage. We went through Harvest and Huntsville, where according to locals about 5 tornadoes touched down.

Two weeks ago that was a convenience store. Here is (below) what’s left of it after tornado crashed it along with lives of two teenage employees. Right across the street there is subdivision where 30 houses got taken out by the same force. But cross the next intersection, and you feel like you woke up from the nightmare. Beautiful landscape, welcoming store signs and every day life make you stop, turn around and remind yourself that what you saw few second ago wasn’t a movie set. There is no door to get back to real life for those folks. That was their real life. Right there.

Near by a tornado leveled an Army base and the town by it.

Drive another hour in the half and you are in the Birmingham area, where this outbreak took lives of hundreds and left thousands homeless.

Something happened to our society over the last century making us used to see horrible pictures of disaster without blinking – destruction of hurricanes Catrina and Wilma, earthquake and tsunami in Japan to name just a few recent ones. We are looking though the pictures we are searching for that OMG!!! shot. Each picture we took left us unsatisfied – it wasn’t good enough and it didn’t show the real damage this tornado did.

Here is what didn’t get pictured. Just outside of each photo frame/shut there is pain that didn’t get in that shot. Right behind that rock there is destroyed household, under the fallen tree there is buried sense of security and comfort of so many. That is the time when 70+” screen TV just doesn’t do. People’s faith is tested.

Live your life to the fullest. Enjoy every morning and don’t stay mad at anyone for longer than 5 minutes. Even if you don’t believe in higher power, believe in good deeds and helping others. Have a greatest day everybody and thank you all who contributed to our efforts.

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