What's the worst that can happen?
I've just spent the past few days in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, following a series of horrific tornadoes that blasted through the area about two weeks ago. Still trying to process what I've taken in, but I think some of the photos I took at least provide a glimpse of what "the worst" truly looks like.
The thing I've always heard about tornadoes is that they come in, fast and quick, and without warning. These certainly did, but what was really frightening, from what I've heard and seen, is that rather than touching down and then capriciously moving on, these tornadoes lingered. Ripped a path miles wide through an area. Whole neighborhoods, whole townships, have been leveled. Rebuilding seems like a monumental task.
And to be there? When a tornado strikes, the only thing you can do is to go down to your cellar and ride out the storm. But how about if the tornado is of such force that it completely rips up your home? What if it completely crushes your home, and you inside it?
How strong were these winds? Some of the debris in Tuscaloosa has been found 600 miles away. I heard stories of "for sale" signs that were ripped up in front of houses and discovered afterwards in Tennessee. A woman in Birmingham whose pocketbook was discovered and returned, found at a convenience stories located hours away from her.
From seeing what's left, I can only imagine what it was like to live through this. I can hear the fear echoed of the stories that are told, hiding in the eyes of the folks telling the stories.
And yet, I sense a resolute strength, as well. These communities will rise again. Of that, I have no doubt.
What's the worst that can happen? Alabama caught a glimpse. But when hope remains, the worst isn't a permanent state of being. It can be overcome. That's what will happen here, slowly but surely.