On the Real: City of Darkness and Saying Goodbye

I've lived in Huntsville now for 8 years (yikes!), and the one thing I have learned is that these meteorologists can not be trusted, so I chose mostly not to look at the news or the weather. (o_o) Last Wednesday, April 27th, started like a typical day...a bit dull and dreary, but typical. I had no idea it was suppose to storm, which I have realized is probably better (as my fear would have been paralyzing had I known the magnitude). Looking back I am quite ashamed of my annoyance, but after being called into the auditorium at 9 and again 11, I was growing weary. I understand it is a security precaution, but it feels like punishment being trapped in a small room with people who feel the need to talk my ear off because they have nothing better to do. My annoyance settled temporarily as I heard the meteorologist say that we had 10 more hours of weather like this…um what?! I have spoken of my fear of storms before and I will say that in part most of my fears of storms lay on the line of rational and irrational ideas of what could happen. But this time it was really happening…(I actually started panicking the day after…). I found out yesterday that 229 tornados actually touched down over 24 hours last week.
When we got home on Wednesday the power was out, it came through our area first. I thought ok it'll be back on later tonight, I even postponed making dinner to wait for the electricity. It never came; I cooked outside on the grill in the middle of a thunderstorm. (-_-) I didn't realize how bad it was until I went out for a drive on Thursday to charge my phone (which was dead which meant no one could contact me, which panicked people) in the car. The whole city was without lights…it was surreal…a whole city paralyzed without electricity. Grocery stores with completely bare shelves and thousands, maybe even millions, of inventory gone. Burglaries started to happen, so they imposed a dust (8pm) to dawn (5:30am) curfew. No gas, stoplights, hot showers… It’s not until you don't have electricity that you realize how much you need it!
I saw Katrina unfold on the news, my heart broke and it was hard to fight back the tears. This situation had the same effect…there were stories of triumph, a 95 year woman who sat in her recliner, covering her head, and rode out the storm will little injuries, and tragedy, a father who gave his life to shield his teenager daughter. Watching this stuff on the news is sad, but seeing it in person being able to drive down the street and realize it missed you by a mile…is nothing to take for granted. Knowing it was around the corner from me gives everything a whole new meaning. To see the neighborhoods that were totally destroyed, nothing left but a pile of wood.
Now I will say that I disagree with the Katrina comparison.  The tragedies that happened here still dull slightly in comparison, but that is my opinion and the government's response will forever suck. There were several major areas of destruction, but a lot was centered in the middle income to upper income neighborhoods which were heavily guarded by the police. I can almost bet they have decent insurance that will set them up in a hotel and fix them up a bigger and better house. I don't want to downplay what they have lost by no means; pictures and family mementos can not be replaced. But I doubt the people in the poorer neighborhoods will be as fortunate. In the end my prayers and help (I did a smidge…) goes out to all my neighbors. We had no lights for four days, we had to throw everything in our fridge out, but in the end I believe we did not suffer at all in comparison.
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We left town soon after realizing that power would not be restored for a while…although I was hopefully. We had planned to go to Atlanta for my father's farewell as associate pastor anyway. During the service I begin to think about when we first moved to Atlanta my eighth grade year. We moved from Chicago when I was 13 years old. I hated it, what teenager wouldn't, being uprooted from their friends and way of life. I struggled for a while with friends and other issues because of my move. I don't think I ever felt at home in Atlanta until I moved to Huntsville for school. We had never been members of a large church, so it was overwhelming when we chose the largest church in the city to become members of. But soon we found our place, especially after my dad became the associate pastor. I think as people bid us farewell at our reception I begin to realize that this indeed was my church family, although until that moment I had never really embraced it. This was a place where I could come to see familiar faces and feel welcomed…and matter to someone. I knew people who had come to my high school graduation, supported me throughout college, and seen me get married. Memories of getting married, watching my brother and sister get baptized. All these memories came flooding back. It was a place where people knew my name, and I actually liked it. I think I began to realize that sometimes you don't realize where home is until you have to leave. I go to the biggest church in the city where I live now and I can tell you, I don't feel a part in many ways, but that was my initial experience in Atlanta. So after the farewell this weekend I am in high hopes that history will repeat itself and I will feel at home again with a new church family.
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