Monday, April 25, 2011

change of plans and reality check

I've been feeling very frustrated at how little I seem to be able to check off my to-do list lately.  I had great plans to make skirts for myself and my two little ladylouwhos to wear to church for Easter.  I have not been keeping track of time and Easter week had snuck up on me.  I really wanted to show you a well posed picture of the three of us in our coordinated outfits.

A little over a week ago on Saturday night we had some bad weather.  Winds all day long were strong and gusty with warnings of gusts up to 80 mph.  That evening we put the kids to bed and were watching the weather on the news and there were tornado warnings up and down the state.  But they were all north and west of us, so we popped in a movie and relaxed.  It was a great night to tuck in and watch a movie, stormy and rainy outside, cozy and comfortable inside.

About 20 minutes before the movie was over the power went out.  We were so annoyed!  How dare the power go out just at the climax of the story!  So we fumbled around for candles and flashlights and hung out in the dark for a couple of hours.

When the power came back, I hopped on facebook and saw posts from friends who live here talking about hiding out in the bathrooms, tornados going past their houses, and all sorts of stuff!

After googling Jacksonville tornado, several articles came up about a tornado that ripped through some base housing and through 3 other nearby neighborhoods.  Initial reports estimated 5 houses destroyed and another 10-15 damaged.

In the morning light, the realization was that the damage was much, much worse.  There are over 50 families displaced from their homes on base, not to mention the damage that was done in the other neighborhoods.

It turns out the this tornado came down the river and landed just about a mile from where we live.   This is a little of what we saw on the way to church Sunday morning.
tornado aftermath.
Our meetings at church that day were spent organizing working crews to help several of the families from our congregation and their neighbors.  Clean-up has been going on every day this past week.
tornado damage, April 2011
It wasn't until Friday that I actually was able to go see some of the damage for myself.

Seeing the pictures online and in the newspaper just aren't the same as witnessing it first hand.  It was all a little surreal.
tornado damage, April 2011

My initial reaction as I drove down the main road and saw some of the damage was, well, it was just heartbreaking.  And this wasn't even the worst of it.
tornado damage, April 2011

Mr. LouWho had spent all of Sunday and Wednesday after work with the clean up effort.  I've felt pretty useless since my kids are so young, I couldn't really take them with me.  A group from church was meeting on Saturday morning to go volunteer and he had planned on going again.  I was thinking I could get some things done around the house and maybe a little sewing while he was gone.

Then he suggested I go and he stay home with the kids.  I was a little annoyed because as much as I wanted to help I felt like I had so much to do to get ready for Easter.  But then I figured it would be good to go and help out, the sewing could wait.  And hey! A morning off from refereeing mothering! 

What I had seen up to this point was nothing compared to seeing the spot where two houses once stood. 
the driveway with no home.
A friend commented to me as we found small toys, broken dishes, etc in the dirt that she was feeling very connected to this family thinking they probably had kids the same age, and what might they need, how could she help.  Her sweet children were finding loose change and salvageable items and leaving them in their mailbox.
tree tops missing
So many trees just had their uppers halves wrenched off by the storm.

It's hard to look at the damage and not feel grateful for our safety.
tornado damage, April 2011
It's hard to imagine how these people have lost everything and not feel grateful for the things we take for granted.
tornado damage, April 2011
It's hard to comprehend the sense of loss they must feel and not be humbled.
tornado damage, April 2011
It's hard to think of all the work that will go into rebuilding and not feel completely lame for some of the things I have been complaining about.
tornado damage, April 2011
I love how people come together after tradgedies like this.  The reality is that we all sense that something within us that moves us to want to help with these big catastrophes: hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.

The little that I was able to do on Saturday was compounded by the fact that SO many others were out there doing the little that they could.  The thought kept going through my head, many hands make light work.  We spent most of the day clearing yards and making piles like this along the curbs.
curbside clean up piles
And that sweet boy taking a rest hauled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow from the back of the house to the front and never stopped until we were done.

The truth of the matter is, we can all help. every day.  We don't need to wait for a natural disaster to be able to do something.  There is always someone in need.  We just have to reach out to our neighbors and friends.  No matter our religion, politcal viewpoints, or social status we are spiritually (and morally) obligated to help each other.  And if we do this we can make a huge difference.  Every single one of us.

This was a great lesson to be reminded of.  And very appropriate for this Easter weekend.  I believe in following the example of Jesus Christ.  Now I just need to do it more often. I hope you will too.

20 crafty mcCrafters commented:

RenegadeQuilter said...

Thanks for sharing this with the rest of us. I love reaching out and helping others - this story is a reminder that we all need to do it.

LesQuilts said...

Thank you for taking the time to write this post!
It is very moving.
I especially like your last paragrah. That is why I do what I can with my Giving Heart.
Glad to know you have one too.
After all, we are all in this together, no matter where we live!
Now, give your loved ones a hug and
Take care, Leslie

sallgood said...

Thanks for the reminder of how service is one of the real keys to happiness!

rachel griffith said...


ga447 said...

I am so glad you posted the photos, I live near Tornado Ally, we worry about global issues but we can't forget about home. It is so sad, a town in Iowa was destroyed just last week. Town was grateful no one lost their life.

Karenkay said...

Thanks for posting....a gentle reminder that there are a lot of people who have needs and I need to be more aware and do my part.

Laurel H. said...

O wow; this post brought tears to my eyes. It is good to know you "whos" were not hurt or displaced. :) If your friends, neighbors, etc. need quilts, let all of us know. I am thinking of one of the especially touching part of your post, when you mentioned seeing little ones' toys; baby, kid, or adult quilts, just say the word...

Oh, and in light of what last week looked like, I think you can forgive yourself for not getting any sewing done. :)

Gale, Ky quilter said...

Your post was so touching but the pictures are so frightening. I get caught up in sewing not done and stress over it so thank you for reminding me what truly is important. Take care.


buttercup said...

Amy, I am so glad you and your family are safe. You got me all teary reading this. Thanks for the perspective. I get caught up in my own little world way too often. Love you! Bisous!

Megan said...

Thanks so much for posting these photos. Even after the media moves on to the next story, there's still a load of work to be done to help people re-build their lives.

**nicke... said...

I am so glad that your family is ok and that you were unscathed! I am sure those families are so grateful for the service you provided. Service is a gift in itself. It makes you feel good to help others and they are so grateful to have the help.

Julie said...

Yikes! How aweful. I am so glad your home & family are alright.

Aunt Spicy said...

Amy, Thanks for posting...that was very grounding and much needed!

Dayna said...

Oh, Amy! Thank you for this post. I need this reminder about my perspective. I love that it is so Christ-honoring! Yes, the trivial distractions do seem quite miniscule in light of the suffering of others. What a blessing that you had the opportunity to serve in this capacity, and that Mr. Lou Who was so sweet to take care of the children to allow you that outlet. I'm so glad that you're all safe.

badlandsquilts said...

I am glad you and your family are fine, and of course sad to see anyone go through such devistation. If you don't have a NOAA radio, you need to get one. When we lived in TX they didn't have tornado sirens like they do here in the midwest. The warning is imperative when sleeping or watching a movie as you were...

pinksuedeshoe said...

I have goosebumps. I can't imagine seeing that kind of destruction in my own neighborhood.

randi---i have to say said...

wow! very humbling pictures. makes you really think about what is important!

Erin @ two more seconds said...

That is so scary!
What a wonderful and inspiring post. Thanks for sharing :]

HunDuddle Hussy said...

i just adore u sweet friend :) have i ever told you that?

Kristen said...

I am glad you are well. It reminds me that stuff is just stuff. Thank God you did not fare worse this Wednesday too.

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