I posted last week about the tornado that rearranged my town. At that time much of the most heavily damaged parts of Tuscaloosa were still blocked from access.
Over the weekend they opened most of it back up, though Alberta is still on lock down. I rode through 15th Street with some friends and managed to snap a few pictures with my camera phone.
I wanted to share them because I think it gives a more accurate view of the devastation than the pictures I already posted from my ride to work. My work is located in a rural part of the state and therefore you see lots of tree damage which may seem minimal.
15th Street, which was completely closed down for over a week, is one of generally four main, heavily trafficked roads in Tuscaloosa. Outside of the Alberta area (that I mentioned above as still being closed down) this was our hardest hit area in town. Many businesses, homes, and apartment complexes used to be located along this stretch of the city.
The picture below was taken in a neighborhood off of 15th Street. Obviously you can see a parking lot and then there’s the roof of the business that used to sit there. Completely obliterated.
The next picture is the neighborhood of Forest Lake. Across the pond where you now see flat land spotted with trees were several large homes. The few homes you do see are smaller homes that were located just across the street.
In the next picture is also the Forest Lake neighborhood. You can see two damaged homes on either side with the remaining portion of a tree still standing. How powerful does a storm have to be to take a big, strong tree such as this and snap it before ripping it apart and carrying it off?
And finally, please excuse the quality of this picture. I was obviously riding past this home but I wanted to show a bit of that strength and determination I’ve noticed in Tuscaloosa. Most of the homes that were left standing had these American flags attached to the front. I think it’s quite a poignant sight to behold in the midst of all the chaos.
I left my tour of the area heartbroken and speechless. What can you say?
There was a time in my early 20’s when I couldn’t have gotten out of Tuscaloosa fast enough. I’d decided this city was boring, backwoods, and I hated everything about it.
Since that time I’ve grown out of that jaded frame of mind and obviously remained here, building a life for myself. However, I have never been particularly fond of Tuscaloosa.
In the weeks following the tornado I must say that outlook has changed yet again. To see the way this community has pulled together….it is truly overwhelming. Immediately after the storm volunteer stations popped up on practically every available corner near the disaster areas and the donations started flooding in, to the point where now the clothing donations in particular are overflowing.
There have certainly been a fair share of reports of looting and other unsavory activities, but overall I get a sense of citizens who, though absolutely overwhelmed and devastated, have done their best to shake it off and give what they can. Be that time, effort, equipment, needed items, or money.
I have heard a story of a couple who came from another state to help with the clean-up and were so impressed with Tuscaloosa and the people in it, they have decided to put their home on the market and relocate. ‘I don’t know what this city has, but whatever it is, I want some of it.’
It’s been knocked to its knees, without a doubt. But this city and the people in it are picking up and moving on. Strength. Determination. Heart. I couldn’t be prouder of Tuscaloosa. My hometown.