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Cimorene ([personal profile] cimorene) wrote2011-04-30 20:46
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Tuscaloosa, Alabama megatornado - the aftermath, an update from my parents

My parents finally got through to me this morning - cell service has been very spotty in the area.

Most of my hometown, Tuscaloosa, is still without electricity, so no hot water, but regular water is running - Mom said they are in a "boil zone", but a lot of people have been giving them drinking water, so there's no shortage there. They also have a propane grill and a camping-sized propane stove for that matter, so even though their actual oven/range is electric, there's no problem about cooking. Yesterday my mom went out and got ice, and they cooked all the food in the freezer and then packed the extra in numerous coolers. Until yesterday there were three people staying in my parents' house (which is giant, and only lost usability in the library, with all four bedrooms remaining untouched) whose own places had been damaged, but the third moved out and now it's only the lesbians who gave my mom the animatronic dancing skeleton pirate last Mother's Day. (You see why these two are my parents' current best friends. Also they're both librarians.)



The house and grounds, getting around:
The tornado passed three houses away from my parents' place, which was still close enough to knock over all their trees except the pecan tree, including a hundred-twentyish-year-oak (older than the house, but just slightly), a smaller oak, and a handful of multi-storey black walnuts. My mom was also growing an olive tree, which was still sort of bush-sized and in a pot, and some volunteers took it away yesterday when they were clearing some of the tree rubbish out. The roof of the front porch had been collapsed but not the foundation (which is of poured cement), so after the debris was swept away my wheelchair-bound dad is no longer trapped in the house. Fortunately his ramp was not damaged. They are probably going to attempt going somewhere with electricity tomorrow to charge the big battery thing for his electric wheelchair, because his injury extends to partial paralysis of the upper arms and he doesn't really have the strength to be fully mobile without help in his manual chair even inside the house (it's an old farmhouse, so in spite of lots of new floors it still has some bumpy doorsills). His wheelchair van also has taken some apparently minor body damage and possibly to the lift, so they're not sure if they'll be able to get him into it or not yet. Mom's car is fine however, and they can still get around by calling a taxi or borrowing a van, plus Dad himself (though not his chair) can be moved in a regular car as long as a couple of strong adults are there to get him in and out of it.

Around town:
My mom went to Wal-Mart a couple of times yesterday - it's undamaged (unlike the big tornado when I was in high school, which was probably less than a tenth the size of this one, but did drop a car through Wal-Mart's roof). Target and Home Depot are also open as usual and the latter is giving away free boxes for people trying to move their stuff - this is what Mom spent yesterday doing, trying to get the lesbian friends' stuff out before their house collapses on it the rest of the way, and driving parts of it across town to store at with some other friends who live north of the river in the ~rich people zone~ which was untouched; the trip took several hours as opposed to the standard twenty minutes, because a lot of roads are still closed, Helen Keller for example, and anything around Alberta City.

They've called in refrigerated trucks for the bodies they're still uncovering and Mom was held up at an intersection by one this morning, what was last night for her. My parents live very close to some of the worst hit areas. (There was still a highway patrol dude camped in the intersection at their corner when she called me.)

There were huge bits of tin roofing in my mother's garden, and she was saying to herself, "I thought I went with silver tin and not white?" and then realized they were from someone else's roof. The big house a few blocks away that used to be a church, across the street from a cemetery, lost not just its roof but big parts of its walls. ("He just finished building a new garage out of cement blocks," said my mom. "Oh yeah?" "It's still there." One would imagine.)

In Forest Lake, the neighborhood surrounding my sister's elementary school, a lot of places were literally flattened to the ground with not even rubble remaining, because it was picked up and presumably deposited elsewhere.

Electricity is back on, meanwhile, in one of two buildings belonging to the state's Geological Survey where my dad works, on the campus of the University of Alabama. He reached his boss and was told that they might be open again on Monday, at which point he'd be able to enjoy climate control (remember it's already gotten up to around 31°C/89°F there this year)... as well as, of course, answering his email. Judging by the number of comments on the Facebook pages of everyone in the family, his inbox is going to be overflowing way more than usual.

Finally, via [personal profile] cleolinda, Alabama Tornado Relief: How You Can Help.

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