Except for a few moments last night, we’re enjoying our visit with Barry’s parents near Athens, Georgia. To be exact, we’re staying in a locale called Watkinsville. His folks moved to Georgia from northern Michigan (not the Upper Peninsula–the north part of the Lower Peninsula) maybe ten years ago. His brother, Craig, lives nearby.
We arrived Tuesday night before midnight. We spent most of yesterday talking, laughing, catching up.
Although we talk every week on the phone–sometimes twice a week–so we know what’s happening in each other’s lives.
I wandered around outside the house with the camera, stooping to breathe in beautiful flower scents. To marvel at the 80 degree weather. To get re-aquainted with warm sunshine.
And guess what! They have cardinals– bright red cardinals–chirping sweetly from the trees in their yard. (I never have the camera nearby when a cardinal decides to serenade, darn it. But there are still a couple of days to go to photograph the beauty.)
Unknown to us, Wednesday would bring a string of tornadoes stretching 350 miles beginning early in the day with the devestation of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama. The TV began to ominously talk about severe thunderstorms and hail and tornadoes yesterday afternoon closer to us. Truly, I didn’t pay much attention. Since we don’t have a TV, my mind no longer focuses on that little black box except when a DVD entertains. I hoped no one would be hurt by the storms.
We popped in a DVD after dinner: “The King’s Speech”. It was quite good, most of us thought.
Bedtime for me: a little after 10 p.m. Goodnight everyone! It’s great to be in Georgia again.
I fell asleep. Until—a LOUD alarm-like sound split through the bedroom. It was the National Weather Service radio they have on for emergencies. A fellow announced a tornado watch for surrounding areas.
Back to sleep. Ahhh….. Thirty minutes later the LOUD alarm sounded again. Tornado warnings in surrounding counties.
Would it be possible to sleep again?
Barry came to bed around midnight. I lay wide-eyed staring at the ceiling, waiting for the next go-round of National Weather Service warnings. Watching lightening etch against the night skies and thunder rumble in the distance.
There is no basement in Barry’s parents home. Our tornado-safe retreat was the bathroom. We outfitted our shelter with towels, flashlights and other emergency gear. Suddenly the TV said the word “Watkinsville” and “tornado”. Barry’s mom and I hightailed it for the bathroom, followed by Barry. (His dad swears he never heard the word “Watkinsville” and wondered what we were doing hovering in the bathroom.)
Fortunately, after ten minutes, Oconee County was declared tornado-free. We returned to watching the devastation on TV. This morning’s reports reveal that more than 150 tornadoes struck last night–perhaps an all-time recent record. Between 178-231 people have died in the South from these storms, depending on which news report one listens.
It’s hard to fathom the devastation. Our safe ten minutes in the bathroom and lack of sleep as the tornadoes veered east and north were nothing compared to what others experienced. Houses and entire towns were flattened by whirling twisters.
Holding the victims in our hearts today as the South views the damage from the twisters and begins the slow painful work of mourning the dead, treating the injured and cleaning up. Blessings to all.