In the aftermath of tornadoes, county responds

Published 11:36 am Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The emails came pouring in even before I accessed my email account Thursday morning. Cities and towns of Shelby County, along with organizations galore, wanted to offer assistance to the people most affected by the April 27 tornadoes.

Our news team wrote quickly, churning out story after story of do-gooders wanting to volunteer their time and resources during an economic time where both time and resources are limited.

As my own electricity was out for more than 24 hours (barely worth mentioning in the face of the mass destruction), I didn’t know the extent of the damage until I set up my laptop at a local library the next morning to mooch power and Internet connection. I sat, aghast, to see photo after photo of rubble and woodpiles created from previously bustling avenues.

As I grew up in Florida, I’m more accustomed to hurricanes. In the event of a hurricane, citizens have days, if not weeks, of warning for catastrophe. Cities buckle down; people seek shelter; and surfers hit the waves. Tornadoes, I’m quickly learning, are entirely different beasts, striking with less warning, but similar severity.

I feel as though citizens have to play Russian roulette every time tornado sirens sound. Should I risk staying in my home? Is another location a safer choice? It’s heartbreaking to hear the stories of those who remained in the safest location of their homes — the downstairs, windowless closets — and still suffered so dearly.

On the evening of April 27, I was left sitting in the candlelight playing chess with my husband and watching the wind blow furiously. My family couldn’t reach me via cell phone and were frightened by the news stories they saw coming out of Alabama. They, however, had their worries relieved by an early morning phone call of reassurance.

Our neighbors who weren’t so fortunate need our continued prayer and assistance.

Even with the distraction of international events, the people affected by these tornadoes still need constant attention and care. Help is still coming, citizens of Alabama.

Shelby County is stepping up to the plate.

Christine Boatwright is a staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 16 or by email at