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The Eye of the Storm

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The Eye of the Storm

Some random thoughts from Alabama.

I won’t be posting any images from Tuscaloosa or Birmingham where I spent 11 days immediately following the tornado disaster. The images have been all over the newspapers and television and are readily available to see at www.samaritan.org, ,one of the many organizations at work in in the aftermath of the F5 tornado that cut a swath of destruction up to a mile wide for hundreds of miles across several states – Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. But I did want to share some thoughts after being home for a couple of days from one of the worst natural disasters I have ever witnessed in nearly 20 years of covering them.

I am distraught.

While I sit here at my kitchen table in my comfortable home writing this, thousands of families are still without a roof over their heads. Many have lost everything – homes, all their clothing, furniture, heirlooms, family pictures. The evidence of their lives vanished in an instant, leaving them devastated. Many are uninsured or under insured. Where do we begin to help them? I am also distraught because our national media outlets have moved on to other things. After all, this is last week’s news, right. Certainly not relevant today, right? Explain that to some of the families I personally talked with. For them, this is the only news that is significant. As I look around my home at all my “stuff”, and consider what it would mean if I lost it all, I can’t imagine how I would cope. Certainly there are things that could be replaced, but what about those things that have been in my family for generations? Photos of my children growing up? Irreplaceable graduation pictures, wedding photos, documents? Now consider one loss like that magnified thousands of times. How can you even grasp something like that? I know I can’t.

I am encouraged.

Immediately after the storm, volunteers by the hundreds, then thousands, came forward to help their neighbors. They came from Alabama. They came from Tennessee and South Carolina. They came from Maine, Illinois, Wisconsin, California, and Texas. I met experienced carpenters and lumberjacks working alongside ex-cons and Bible students. What a testimony to the common bond of faith that we share that makes us willing to sacrifice ourselves and serve others without expecting anything in return.

I will be back.

It may be a few days or a few weeks, but I will return, in some capacity, to help. You can help, too. You may not be free to take time off from work to volunteer, but you can certainly help those who are. You can help by supporting them while they are away from their homes and families. And you can help with financial support. One organization I can definitely recommend is Samaritan’s Purse. They are perhaps one of the most organized, committed, and effective organizations on the ground and I can’t say enough about the men and women who are working tirelessly, 7 days a week, to help and encourage the victims of the storm.

I encourage you to find a way, within your own sphere of influence or without, to help. You might have to go out of your comfort zone but it will be worth it.