family In The Wars

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lethal weather

The weather can be frightening there is no doubt about that. tornadoes, I feel, can be more frightening than a cyclone, for the funnel shaped monster dancing across the landscape can strike in any direction; this house, that one over there, or a whole street. In this case, these monsters seem to have almost demolished whole nieghbourhoods and cities. All we can do is mourn the dead, help the survivors and put our hands in our pockets to donate to the Humanitarian Aid. There is no doubt though, despite the ravaged land and death toll, the Saints are a blessed people. We follow the truth of our Lord. And help is always available through the Bishop's Storehouses where volunteers help to pack and load, including the helping hands of our youth.

Lethal tornadoes impact lives of Latter-day Saints
No members injured; several lose their homes, possessions
By Jason Swensen
Church News staff writer
Published: Friday, May 6, 2011
Just hours before some 150 tornadoes touched down April 27 across six states in the U.S. South — carving a historic and tragic swath of death and destruction — Colleen Robbins shared a harmless joke with her husband, Wade.

Photo courtesy of President Richard Holzapfel, Alabama Birmingham Mission Photo of Wade and Colleen Robbins' home following the tornado.

Sister Robbins and her 1-year-old granddaughter, McKenna, were in the home when the tornado hit. Both survived, having sought refuge in a bedroom closet moments before the storm hit.
The longtime Tuscaloosa, Ala., resident and Church member was no stranger to the sorts of tornado warnings that were being issued that day. She knew most such warnings are issued and pass without a twister ever touching down. So that day Sister Robbins told her husband, tongue in cheek, "that I'd be hiding in our bedroom's middle closet when the tornado hits our home."
That's exactly what happened.

Photo courtesy of President Richard Holzapfel, Alabama Birmingham Mission Area Seventy Elder R. Randall Bluth speaks with Colleen Robbins and other members outside the ruins of the Robbins home.

Late in the afternoon, Sister Robbins, a member of the Tuscaloosa Ward, Bessemer Alabama Stake, heard on the radio that a tornado had touched down some four minutes from her home. She was caring for her 1-year-old granddaughter, McKenna, and decided to take the toddler and move to her bedroom as a precaution. "With tornadoes, you always just hope they won't hit you."

Associated PressAerial photo shows the devastation of the Cedar Crest and Forest Lake neighborhoods in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on April 28, a day after a deadly tornado cut through the community.Several Latter-day Saint families in Tuscaloosa lost their homes to the disaster.

Sister Robbins and McKenna were on the bed together when rocks began pelting the side of the home. The two hurriedly ducked into the bedroom closet. "A moment later my bedroom window blew out — it sounded like a bomb," she said. Terrified, both began to cry. Sister Robbins tried to pray in-between her sobs. She looked up, watched the roof twist from the top of her brick home and peered into the blue sky.
In just seconds, the tornado had demolished the family's home. "But when it was over, we were OK," Sister Robbins told the Church News. "It was as if the Lord had put His hand on us and protected us."
Despite losing her house and countless possessions, Sister Robbins considers herself blessed to be alive. She's especially grateful little McKenna was unharmed. She knows hundreds were not as fortunate. At press time, 328 people from Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia were reported killed in the April 27 twister outbreak. Meanwhile hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed, leaving thousands without homes and, in many cases, without jobs in a region already staggered by a weak economy.
No missionaries or members were harmed in what's being called the largest tornado outbreak since the Great Depression. Still, several member families in the Bessemer Alabama Stake, Tupelo Mississippi Stake and Jackson Mississippi Stake lost their homes entirely or are dealing with significant damage. Many members and missionaries have found shelter in the homes of fellow members. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of homes across the impacted Southern states were left without power for several days following the twisters.
"The devastation of this disaster has been overwhelming," said Sister Robbins, who is staying with her family with friends from the Tuscaloosa Ward.
Alabama member Jim Phillips reported that electrical service in his neighborhood was interrupted for almost a week. "Many spots in the [state] are just obliterated," he said.
No Church-owned buildings were significantly damaged.
Members in this area are no strangers to natural disaster. Legions were enlisted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to assist their fellow members and hurricane-weary neighbors to the south. Now many who were benefactors of service following Katrina have become the beneficiaries of such assistance. When the tornadoes finally passed, the members across the region were quick to help any and all in need.
"I have been so impressed with the Church's organizational [skills] and dedication to helping others rebuild their lives," said Alabama Birmingham Mission President Richard Holzapfel.
The missionaries and members were immediately enlisted to assist others with a variety of humanitarian aid. Some members have taken in friends and fellow members while others have worked long hours to clear fallen trees and building materials around damaged homes. Many have assisted tornado victims to search for valuables scattered across debris-strewn lots.
Members in the Birmingham area had planned for a weekend day of service long before the tornadoes hit. As part of the event, a truckload of bailed clothing had been shipped from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City to distribute to residents of the community. Many who lost everything to the tornadoes were able to find clean, quality clothes at a local LDS meetinghouse just days after the disaster.
Local priesthood leaders have also worked tirelessly with Church authorities and welfare workers in Salt Lake City to coordinate relief efforts. Sacrament services were conducted on May 1 in areas impacted by the storms, but many local members spent the Sabbath out and about in their communities, helping all they found to be in need.
A large-scale service project has also been organized for May 7-8, with thousands of members from the U.S. South expected to travel to affected areas and spend the weekend providing service.
President Holzapfel said he has seen many in the devastated communities come together as they have both rendered and received service.

Photo by Marvin TedjamuliaItems from the Bishops' Storehouse in Tucker, Ga., are prepared for shipping into areas affected by recent tornadoes.

"People's hearts have turned to what's really important," he said. "There is a feeling here that we are a real community."
Brother and Sister Robbins continue to recover from the shock of losing their home and witnessing one of the many tornadoes at ground level. Still, they said they have been sustained, thanks to the love and support of their fellow members. Brother Robbins has even maintained his sense of humor. Just days after the twister destroyed his home, several visiting priesthood leaders stopped by the family's demolished lot to check on their welfare.
Brother Robbins greeted the men, saying "Brethren, if I knew you were coming I would have cleaned up a little."

Photo by Marvin TedjamuliaMaterials prepared in the Bishops' Storehouse are ready for shipping to assist those affected by recent tornadoes. Youth respond to a call to assist in preparing materials at the Tucker, Ga., Bishops' Storehouse. They pause for a photo in a trailer prior to it being loaded and send to areas affected by recent severe weather.

Photo by Marvin TedjamuliaTrucks are loaded with supplies at the Tucker, Ga., Bishops' Storehouse for transport into areas affected by severe weather.
Photo by Marvin Tedjamulia

Photo by Marvin TedjamuliaVolunteers responded to a call to serve at the Tucker, Ga., Bishops' Storehouse to prepare materials to be shipped into areas affected by recent severe weather.

Photo by Marvin TedjamuliaVolunteers responded to a call to serve at the Tucker, Ga., Bishops' Storehouse to prepare materials to be shipped into areas affected by recent severe weather.

Photo by Marvin TedjamuliaTrucks are loaded with supplies at the Tucker, Ga., Bishops' Storehouse for transport into areas affected by severe weather.

No comments: