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Adding to my list of backup plans: construction. I can do it (ish), and I want to own more tools. And also a hardhat. 

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     Crossing into the tornado scar on my town is like passing into the twilight zone…nothing looks right. I’ve driven by these buildings my entire life and now they’re unrecognizable. I didn’t look at any before/after shots until today, and when I did I was hit with a wave a nausea. They look like scenes from post-apocalyptic movies.

     I can’t find a better word than “overwhelming”. 

I’m overwhelmed by the sheer devastation Mother Nature brought down on us; I have had true empathy for those affected by natural disasters in the past, but I have really understood what it actually felt like to see your own familiar places leveled with the parking lots, buildings you spent time in crumpled in on themselves, people you know standing with only rubble left to their names. 
I don’t even know what the numbers are for today’s count of dead and wounded. So many are still unidentified, the VA hospital is being used for morgue space. 

I’m overwhelmed by the eerie calm so many of the people I’ve met exhibit as they sort through the bricks and shingles of what was their home to look for anything worth salvaging; the quiet persistence as they work to clear refuse from their yards and trees from their roofs. 

I’m overwhelmed by the disgusting part of humanity that uses this disaster for personal gain, looting and raping and violence. Martial Law and curfews to defend the innocent against the ugliness in the hearts of their neighbors. Sin has such a hold on this world that these procedures are standard for disasters; human natures makes man comes out to slash at his brother when he is already bleeding, every time. 

And I’m overwhelmed by the goodness in the hearts of people who came from other states to help us. They’re out there beside us we help the victims of the storm begin down the road to recovery. People are coming in from miles and miles away with trucks full of bottled water. Strangers to the city are asking for directions so they can take hot food to the people who haven’t had much help yet, three days later. I met guys from Mississippi State University who were helping clear trees out on the lot across from one I was working on today; they’re here for their weekend — their exams aren’t canceled like Tuscaloosa’s university students — and they are giving up their time for people they’ve never laid eyes on before.

     The phrase “praise Him in the storm” hits deep for us right now. And I don’t take it lightly. Even though so many are dead, so many are hurt, so much is damaged, so much is lost…it could have been even worse. When I look at the piles of material that were once houses, it’s a wonder that anyone survived at all. The entire population of these streets that were hit should be dead, and yet they’re not. I count this a blessing. I also count the many people who have come to volunteer their help as blessings, and I myself am blessed to get to provide my tiny contribution of time and effort; my work is so small in the grand scheme of things, yet I want to help all the same. 

Please continue to pray for the people of Tuscaloosa and the other areas affected by the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak.