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Tornado update

Posted: Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:19 pm
by Russ Chappell
First of all, the good news.

I am safe, and my family is safe.

Our homes still exist, as homes.

And, well, I guess that's about it, for the good news.

As some of you may have heard, Tuscaloosa has been devastated by a tornado.

At approximately 5 p.m. yesterday afternoon, a tornado that you will never convince me was anything less than an F5 tore through rush-hour traffic, including a road that, at one time, was rated the busiest road in America. We watched on live tv yesterday, as the tornado approached. It was miles away, yet still filled the screen. We could see chunks of debris in the air, and when you realized just how far away that tornado was, and you sill saw the debris, you understood that you were seeing houses fall from the sky. The only way I could describe it was like some mad special effects sci-fi movie. Hammer of God.

This monster didn't rise and then drop again; it travelled from Mississippi to Georgia, on the ground. One tornado. Guys, I'm over 50, and I've lived my whole life in tornado country, but I'd never seen anything like that.

They're saying right now that 37 are dead in Tuscaloosa, and about 150 dead in Alabama, but I've heard from people in a position to know that the number is much higher, and they're afraid to release the true figures right now. I do know that WHAT I'M NOT HEARING is the number of missing, so I fully expect the toll to rise dramatically.

Now I know that some people might look at us in the South and think that if we spent the money on a better warning system, we could have saved some lives, but because we're poor & backwards down here, this is the result. But, guys, I'm here to tell you we have an EXCELLENT early warning system here and it saved my life.

Normally, my wife & I travel to work together. She gets off work at 4:45 and pick me up at 5. Yesterday, knowing the need for a flexible schedule, we drove in separate cars. Our business closed up at 3 yesterday, and I came home early. My wife also left early & came home. I work in Alberta, a community that doesn't mean anything to any of you, but it does the folks here in Tuscaloosa.

You see, Alberta doesn't exist today. It's fuckin' gone. And my wife would have been picking me up, just as that bad boy descended on my town.

Um, let's see...I have power, but two of the town's six water towers were destroyed, so we've been warned we may lose water. Gas is gone. I have no tv, no phone, no cell, no internet (I've managed to scarf a wi-fi connection at McDonalds). I've been told that Comcast--our tv/phone/internet provider--was leveled last night, but I can't confirm that. So my ability to monitor my site & forum is rather restricted right now, but I am confident that we remain in good hands, because I've got good Directors helping us out.

And I've lost my job, because there's no business left to go back to.

But as I've said, I have my life, my family, my safety & health, and my home. I am fortunate.

But keep my town in your prayers tonight, ok?

Re: Tornado update

Posted: Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:44 pm
by Jason Doty
Thanks for letting us know you and yours are safe. I know first hand how hard the recovery is after natural disasters, let us know if we can be of any help to you and yours.

Re: Tornado update

Posted: Thu Apr 28, 2011 5:05 pm
by Somebody
Oh good grife. Glad you & yours are okay, and hope everything works out soon...

Re: Tornado update

Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 2:21 pm
by Ross
Glad you're okay Russ. If you need help (monetary or otherwise) please don't be afraid to let us know.

Re: Tornado update

Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:14 pm
by JephYork
Good Lord. Russ, that's awful! :(

I'm really happy to hear that you and your wife and your home are safe and sound. Thanks very much for letting us know.

Keep us updated when/if you can -- I'll be sending good thoughts your way!


Re: Tornado update

Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:17 pm
by Russ Chappell
Thanks for the offer, Ross. I think I'll be fine, but the offer is honestly appreciated.

The purpose of my message wasn't to engender sympathy for me, but to share with the world what my city is living through.

My telephone & internet service was restored this morning, although both are just limping along right now. Hat's off to both Comcast & Alabama Power. Still no employer to report to, but that's an issue for next week.

Now, to the city:

Current statistics, for the city of Tuscaloosa:
45 dead
990 injured
446 missing (one employer--one employer--has 200 missing employees)
thousands homeless

Some photos:




In the background of the third photo, just in front of the tornado, is Bryant-Denny Stadium, 7th largest sports arena in the world.

Waste Management lost all their trucks, so there's no way to clear debris.

Headquarters of Red Cross & Salvation Army were both in the path of the tornado.

It was anywhere from a half-mile to a mile wide, at various points.

You might be able to see video of it here: here

This is a real-time forum discussion of the tornado & its aftermath. It's normally a high-volume sports forum.

Thanks everyone, for the chance to share all this.

Re: Tornado update

Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 6:02 pm
by loki
Saying I'm sorry to hear the extent of how bad it is just doesn't cut it. Really glad you and yours are okay, and, for what it is worth, my thoughts are with you.

Re: Tornado update

Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 6:48 pm
by Paul Bourcier
I'm so grateful you and your wife are safe and that you didn't lose your home. I can't imagine what it's like there. Thank you for sharing this information, Russ. It doesn't seem like enough in the face of a tragedy like this, but our thoughts and prayers are with you!

Re: Tornado update

Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:48 pm
by LordZorn

Thanks very much for the update!!! I had(regrettably) forgotten that you lived right in the path of that monster. Thanks for showing us all by example the courage and equanimity of a real-life hero, as you always do. Please take care, and know that this place will function well as always...but still not optimally without you as its linch-pin.

In all seriousness, guys, I hereby nominate Russ' post and its sequels for the Hall of Fame, based on its importance to this community, its journalistic quality, and the poster's going above and beyond the call

Re: Tornado update

Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:44 pm
by captamr
These weather extremes are so common now!

Our prayers are with you. Stay strong in the rebuilding that's to come. You have a true source of support here, just say the word, there's always someone here.

Re: Tornado update

Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:25 pm
by Russ Chappell
Here are some of the better video links:
This is a video of the live tv broadcast that I watched as it descended on the city. As it stands now, you have to scroll over to page 6, but it might be buried further by the time you read this. Look for the video description that reads "Tornado caught live on Skycam as it moves through Tuscaloosa." ... re=related ... re=related ... re=related ... re=related ... re=related

The last two links follow the path of the tornado. It takes 16 minutes to follow the path in a helicopter.

Re: Tornado update

Posted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:36 am
by Col_Fury

...Good Lord...

Re: Tornado update

Posted: Tue May 03, 2011 1:19 am
by zilch

You guys are the only thing that's taking our minds off whats gone on here locally with our own tornados (one cluster on New Year's Eve and another ball-buster set of F4/F5s on Good Friday).

Keep us updated, please.

Onwards and Upwards

Jim 'zilch' Doty