365 Days Later


Where were you this time last year? Me? I was at work with tornadoes bearing down on both my office and my home. The worst part was being cut off from my family. As soon as the first wave of tornadoes passed, I rushed home, dodging fallen trees, to be with the people I love. If it’s going to be the end of the world, I want to go surrounded by people who love me.

After two more tornadoes blew through the area, we emerged from our barely-safe room and found:

  • Strangely, our house was spared any damage. Clean living?
  • Many of my neighbors have chainsaws and are willing to share.
  • We had no electricity. Thousands had no electricity and would not have any for 6 days.
  • Hundreds of homes and business were gone, simply gone.
  • 220 fellow citizens of Alabama had perished in the onslaught.

My wife, who doesn’t get out of the house much, met our next-door neighbor after the first blast. They simultaneously emerged to inspect the damage. With barely a word, they just hugged each other in a embrace that said, “I’m glad we’re both alive!” You don’t know how much you value life until you’re faced with losing it. You don’t know how much you truly love your family until faced with really losing them.

For the next six electricity-free days, we boiled water on an open grill; made coffee in a French press; cooked all the food we had; shared it with the neighbors. We got to know each other a little better without the distractions of the modern world. We huddled around a radio for news. We played board-games. We talked. Most of all we discovered we could pull together in a crisis and survive. All that and we learned that after 6 days with no hot water, we can get pretty stinky and not really care. However, I will never take a hot shower for granted again.

People I know and work with, lost their homes. One lost her son. There’s no coming back from devastation like that. We were lucky. We only lost a few days of the daily grind and gained something much more precious. The knowledge that we are not alone in this world.

That is probably the only thing we really need in this life: to not be alone. I’m lucky to not be alone and think to myself daily, “There, but by the grace of God, go I.” So many lost loved-ones and will forever be alone without them. It’s so strange that within a few minutes a funnel of wind can scoop a hole right out of the middle of our lives.

That’s where I was 365 days ago. That’s where I am today. Where are you?

Some video I shot of my neighborhood on that fateful day.


Link for the embed impaired.

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3 Comments

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  1. Amazing how the worst conditions often bring out the absolute best in people (and how the opposite is also true). Ours was June 22 last year. Our circumstances are remarkably similar, except we experienced 4 days with no power and an 80 foot, two-trunk black maple demolished our roof. Just the same, we were really, really lucky compared to many of our neighbors. We really do find ourselves caring less about our stupid ‘stuff’ than we do each other in a tornado’s aftermath.

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