Friday, April 7, 2006

We're not in Kansas anymore

Today my life is the same and will continue to be the same. But that's not true for alot of my friends and other people in my community. It is rumored that the tornado that touched down about a mile and a half from our house was an F-4. That won't be confirmed for several more days, but truly some of the biggest homes in the county were blown completely away. They say that as many as 8 people died here. Volunteer State Community College, where my husband and I met, is terribly damaged. The car dealership where I got the first car I ever purchased on my own is gone. The stables where my daughter works were hit, but weren't damaged badly. And I saw it. In Tennessee, you don't see them very often. They usually come at night, are so wrapped in rain, and hidden by trees and hills, that you usually don't see them at all. This one...well, I saw it from my daughter's school as I picked her up. It was OBVIOUS that it was a tornado, but I don't think any of us had any idea of what we were looking at. I mean, we KNEW it was a tornado, but it was almost like it was entertainment. We had no idea the destruction it carried with it.

We spent most of the afternoon getting in touch with those we know around town to make sure they were okay. Many were not. I don't doubt that over the next few days we will learn of all the connections we have with people who were deeply affected by this storm. With each hour that has passed, we have had the truth of the situation slowly sink in. From thinking of the sight of the thing as cool, to feeling sickened that we were actually seeing people we know lose everything they had.

I truly don't think that anyone, escept those who were actually hit by it, realized how bad it was. Although most everyone was affected by the traffic-you couldn't hardly get anywhere north of Nashville. So much of the damage occured in high traffic areas that it made for a lot of headaches. But that made it hard for the majority of us to realize how much damage there was. Traffic was either stopped from going through the areas altogether-the main road through the county was shut completely down-or they routed it around the damaged areas. Only those who needed to be there were allowed in. Even the news services were stuck in traffic trying to get to it. So we didn't even get the first images of the destruction for 3-4 hours. We were hearing eyewitness accounts, but it wasn't until those first images were aired that it began to dawn on us. Tomorrow, when the shock wears off and the road blocks lift, I imagine there will be droves of people going to see for themselves. The photo bug in me wanted to go immediately, but it is respect for my friends and neighbors that keeps me home tonight. After talking to some, I realize how much they are hurting. I will wait a couple of days before I head that way and then it will be to offer help. The south is nothing if not friendly and neighborly. As my New Yorker best friend says, we talk about each other behind their backs, but when it comes to helping, we are right there. When it comes to caring, we are always able to put aside any differences or gossip. We are capable of unmeasurable love and compassion. And I'd be willing to bet that over the next few days, there will be a huge outpouring of just that.

Oh, as a sidenote: William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys, had his home torn up really bad. The house right next to his isn't there anymore. I guess no one is immune.