Respecting the Power of Mother Nature

liz_brent.jpgI grew up close to the Kansas state line in Missouri, so I understand the power of the weather.   As some of you may know, I split my time between the Mobile and Montgomery offices, so I'm in and around the Montgomery area frequently. I'm there so much that, a couple of years ago, the ranger from Kamp Kiwanis tore out a bathroom and put in a shower for me, and I inhabit my "dorm room" in the Volunteer Center when I'm there.   I have a television in my office because I often work late when I am in residence. 

Last week, I was in Montgomery on Wednesday because we had Civic Education Day for Girl Scouts from around the state the following morning.    Melinda Wilson and I were in our offices, trying to get ready for Civic Education Day, and I had the evening news on.   As the newscast started, it showed the storm live from Tuscaloosa via the weather video cams they have stationed throughout the city.    I called Melinda in, and we watched in stunned silence as it was clear, with the flying debris and power of the tornadoes.  Clearly, this was a horrible experience for those on the ground. 

The difficult element of our improved, up-to-the-minute media is that we often see and experience events that are painful and frightening to watch.  I can't imagine how scary that would be to watch as a child, since as an adult I find it scary.  This real-time coverage continued throughout the local news, with the tornadoes building in intensity as they cut through Birmingham.  

All evening I was glued to the television while thinking through my emergency plan.  Both the Montgomery buildings are brick with some windowless interior spaces, and I do have some emergency equipment there, but not lots.  As I listened, one of the tornadoes was headed toward our COO's house.  It was clear, as I watched until late in the night, the power of Mother Nature is formidable. 

Civic Education Day was cancelled, and early the next morning I called our ranger at Kamp Kiwanis.   It was clear from his voice things weren't good.  He said the camp was fine, but he had lost two cousins in the storm, and his monument business literally was gone.  He indicated he needed a generator, so I assured him I would take care of that.  I bought a generator and en route was stunned at how everything where the description of the storm was looked fine.  Not until we got to 200-feet from the turn on to Mount Hebron Road did we see any indication that it had even rained the night before.  Then, as we turned on to Mount Hebron, we saw the devastation.  

It looked as if a bomb had been dropped.  Trees down, twisted, snapped off 15 feet in the air with nothing left but toothpicks, splintered half way down. The scene was like something out of a horror movie.   We delivered the generator and drove on to Kamp Kiwanis.   That day camp was eerily beautiful, not even a limb was down, and the lake was stunning.  It looked so serene with all the violence from the storm, not ¼ mile from camp.   It is good to be reminded of all that we take for granted.   Many perished that day, and the death toll is still climbing.   We are afforded the opportunity to experience the glory of nature in the work that we do.   On the drive back to the office, we decided cancelling Civic Education Day was such a small price to pay, as we mused on what many others are confronting, that day and in the foreseeable future. 

Photos of devastation near Kamp Kiwanis (click picture for full size image):





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