Friday, May 27, 2011

One month ago today...

a tornado hit my city.

I was planning to do a proper "one month later" post with some videos and photos, but instead work has been keeping me from taking any new photos or videos. But I did find this on Facebook this morning, and it really got to me. It was made by someone who took footage of the storm and set it to the music and themes from the 2009 Alabama Football "hype" video (the year of the National Championship). They do one every year to get people pumped before the games. Here it is:

There is another one that this guy, Sam Woodard, has done with more "recovery" footage. Here is a link to it (you have to be signed into Facebook to see it), but he may be taking it down soon because UA has requested to use it at the upcoming candlelight vigil:!/video/video.php?v=10150191034985213&comments

There is a part where the Auburn and Alabama colors come together with the words "United." I know people think we are crazy in our state for our football rivalry, but I think shows that when it really matters, we can come together.

Also, the "We're Coming Back" signs are all over my old neighborhood of Forest Lake, and that makes me really happy. I've talked to so many people about why they loved that neighborhood, and I couldn't agree more. We only lived there two years, but it actually felt like a neighborhood. I am sad to see how it has changed, but seeing these efforts and reading about the efforts of the city to be careful about rebuilding, makes me think that it will be even better soon.

Finally, I will leave you with this shot, from someone who posted it on the Forest Lake Neighborhood Facebook page:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hangout Fest and life in general

So Jennings and I got back from Hangout Fest yesterday. It is only halfway through my workday and I am already mourning my incredible weekend.

Needless to say, the festival was awesome. Not only did we get to see a ton of great acts, but we got to do it all in gorgeous weather - ON THE BEACH. A computer in an office will never ever compare.

The whole weekend was relaxed - except the first night where Jennings lost his iphone (he eventually got it back) and we almost walked 6 miles back to the condo because the shuttle lines were too long - and it was really nice to not be in Tuscaloosa.

As hard as it was to live through the storm, to move out of our house, and try to start over, the hardest part of this whole thing is seeing it every day. When I'm on campus, it's easy to forget there ever was a tornado. The hedges are trimmed, there are no downed trees, and even the summer flowers are all neatly blooming in rows. But as soon as I make my commute home, I have to relive the devastation all over again.

I predicted that all of this would not really catch up with me until later, and true to form it hasn't really until now. It was not until I walked out of the darkness and into the light that I saw how much my city has suffered.

I have used the phrase "lucky" so much lately to describe how fortunate we are to have our lives, jobs, cars, and most of our possessions. But sometimes, all I can think about is how unfortunate it is to see this city still in shambles. I know it will take a while to come back, it may not even be "back" until Jennings and I move in a few years. But for right now, it is still a big mess.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Too much too muc too much

I am finding it really hard to concentrate today. I know Mondays are not really my forte to begin with, but today is somehow harder than other Mondays in the recent past.

Since taking off work last week half a day Thursday and all day Friday, it was non-stop work for me and Jennings. We moved things from one place to another, I cleaned the new temporary rental house like a mad person and we even tried to attack the yard that had not been kept up in 6+ months. But alas, even with all that work, there is still so much to do.

I still have some dirty dishes I found that were in the kitchen before the storm (gross, I know, but they went MIA for a while). There is still little bits of laundry that have been lurking around waiting to get done. We still have to return our damned cable box to Comcast and tell them not to charge us for a service we are clearly no longer receiving. There are floors to be swept and mopped, weeds to tackle, trash to discard, and the list goes on....

And when all that "fun" is complete and I can sit on my couch in a house that I feel comfortable in, we get to begin the unenviable task of sorting through receipts of things we had to purchase because of the storm to claim for insurance. We have to catalog all the lost or damaged items and make sure we have proof that it is damaged.

Mind you, our list of claims will be small in comparison to most folks, but I feel like just sending the insurance company a picture of my neighborhood and saying, is this enough proof we were damaged?


I think I am just exhausted. All of the last few months have caught up with me, and I am feeling like I may just switch off any minute. I guess we all reach that point.

For me, that point is today.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The worst of times and the best of times...

There is probably no way to capture all of the things swirling around my head in the wake of this tornado in Tuscaloosa. So I won't even try. But suffice to say, I am so thankful to be alive, safe, untouched, and unharmed after the scariest experience in my life. The same goes for my incredible husband and all the people we know in town who are still alive today.

For those of you I have talked to or messaged personally, you have probably heard some of the details. For those of you I haven't spoken with, please let the following photos and videos tell the story for me. I am tired and am reaching a point where I can't really say a whole lot more about it. But, still having some of those lingering journalistic tendencies in me, I felt it was my duty to document. So here it is:

This was my house in the Forest Lake subdivision of Tuscaloosa shortly before we moved into it in 2009:

This is my house the day after the tornado, on April 28, 2011:

Although it was damaged, it was still standing. I can't say the same for many houses in my neighborhood. The major casualty was the side porch:

A word to the wise - if you ever build a side porch on your home, go ahead and enclose it with some kind of walls - it will NOT survive a tornado. Every home in the neighborhood with similar construction had the same problem.

Also on Thursday, I did a video of getting into our street and the damage inside the house:

Tornado tour from Kelli Wright on Vimeo.

(Please forgive the narration, I didn't even know if the camera I was using took sound, so when I started talking I didn't know if I was talking to anyone or not.)

For some more photos of my neighborhood, here is the Forest Lake gallery from The Tuscaloosa News.

At any rate, now it has been several days since the storm. Each day I go through the neighborhood, instead of all the damage, I am seeing all the progress they have made. One day it was seeing all the debris trucks taking up the stuff from the yards:

Another day it is seeing new power poles being put up in the neighborhoods again. All of the progress and assistance has been astounding. Although our community does not look the same as it did a week ago, it is on track to rebuilding.

Jennings and I have moved all of our stuff into storage and are temporarily renting a friend's parents' house. In the meantime, we are still looking for a permanent home and the next adventure in our lives. Thanks to everyone again for your concern and offers of help. They have all been taken wholeheartedly and appreciated. But since we are in good shape now, I urge all of you to channel your altruism into those who still need it. UA has put together a tornado relief page to provide info on what can still be done:

Until next time...