Tuesday, July 26, 2011
after the tornado...
Where do I begin? My last post was April 23, and I had every intention to begin posting more regularly. I had just finished the quilt I was raffling off to raise funds for our mission trip, and had left it in the quilt shop where I work so everyone could see it and donate to our cause. That was Wednesday, April 27. That morning I had gone in to work to print the raffle tickets and leave the quilt. I had no idea of the devastation that was headed our way.
All morning we kept getting reports of bad weather, and by 8:30am, our children had been sent into the hallways for safety because tornado warnings were in effect. Storms were hitting all around our little town, but every one of them skirted around us. By 11am, the schools had dismissed the children and I went and got my kids. On our way home, we had to take a detour because a tree was across the road. Finally, we were home. I turned on the TV, which is very out of the ordinary for me, to keep an eye on the weather. Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama were hit! Trenton and Sand Mountain and Flintstone, Georgia were hit! Chattanooga was hit! All around us, destruction. But, each storm that looked like it would hit us, kept veering north. By 8pm, I was full of nervous energy and was sewing on a project, but had my eye on the television because the warnings just kept coming. About 8:15, I had my kids and dog in our small downstairs bathroom and saw a storm cell was headed straight for us! My husband said, this one won't miss Ringgold. At about 8:30pm, we heard on the emergency radio that a tornado was confirmed in downtown Ringgold. Upon hearing it, my husband, who is our county manager, had to leave, assuring us we were in the clear now and would be ok.
After he left, we began receiving calls from friends, my son, the kids' dad who lives in town, and my daughter who lives in Atlanta and was frantically trying to reach her dad. Story after story, we heard from my kids' friends about how they were fleeing from the tornado and saw it destroy their home, how they were watching the tornado head straight for them and then it turned and went another direction, about how their dad was in his tub with his dog and heard the tornado go overhead! Ringgold was hit with a storm of massive proportions. An EF4 tornado with a path of 13 miles and a swath of 1/3 mile had wiped out much of downtown and then went over a ridge and settled in between two ridges and obliterated about seven miles. In all, 8 people died. After seeing the damage, it was a miracle more didn't lose their lives.
The quilt shop where I worked was destroyed. And my raffle quilt was in the shop under the collapsed roof.
The next morning, my kids and I were able to make it to our church by traveling back roads and we began working with other volunteers, helping clean up and providing meals to people in need. Within a couple of days, our church was designated as a distribution point for those in need on our side of the county. We were cooking 3 meals a day, providing disaster relief to those in need, and sending out work teams to help those in the community with needs. The outpouring from the surrounding community was incredible! We were able to share the love of Christ with those hurting by providing for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. We had so much donated for relief that our gym was half full. We had people coming from as far away as Oregon, Iowa and California to assist, and individual business owners in the area were donating truckloads of food and supplies! We never could have imagined this would happen! We were so thankful we had been spared and could serve our neighbors and friends this way.
We met so many wonderful people, and a storm victim even said to me, "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm kind of glad for the storm because I was able to meet so many caring people because of it." Now, that sounds crazy, but I am convinced that the love of Christ will make you thankful for storms in your life!
When the building owner began demolishing the quilt shop, someone was able to save my quilt from the rubble! She has some wounds from the roof collapsing on her, but after a soak, she is still in pretty good shape. Vicki Bedford from Michigan was the winner of the quilt, and after thinking about it for some time, she decided she should let the quilt go to someone in need of it. So, I am prayerfully considering who that might be. We have so many who are having to rebuild their homes and lives, and I know God will lead me to the right person. Thank you , Vicki! This quilt will definitely have a story to tell!