It is a little before 2:30 in the morning. I awake to the storm passing overhead. I lie in bed thinking about the weather. Specifically, I think about the photos I took of the hail in the backyard during the week the tornadoes hit Sun ’N Fun at the Lakeland Airport. I wonder if we are to get hail tonight.
As I lie in the dark, I hope the storms passing over north Florida at this time will not be as devastating as others recently occurred in the South. I would not want to have to go through what some of those through Alabama are now experiencing.
I think about what happened across Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Virginia over the last two days. I think of the people who have lost their homes and I cannot believe the number of deaths. Last night as we were preparing to go to sleep, the news reported 170 dead along the path of destruction. Through the night, that number has climbed to 295.
This is the highest number of people killed by a tornado since April 1974. At that time, 315 died by tornadoes spawned throughout the Midwest and South.
This week’s storms wreaked havoc throughout the South. The University of Alabama had to cancel final exams and postpone graduation ceremonies. Now, students who were looking forward to graduating this weekend instead are thankful for being alive. Instead of marching to Pomp and Circumstance this weekend, many graduates are helping the cleanup and search efforts in Tuscaloosa.
Weather officials stated the tornado was more than a mile wide and stayed on the ground for more than 200 miles. It is little wonder so many suffered so much as a result. Some have described the path of destruction as phenomenal; in some areas, the storm cleaned the land so thoroughly northing remains standing, manmade, or natural.
Listening to the storm passing overhead, I think about how lucky I have been in my lifetime. Although I have been on the edge of disasters, I have never been at the center. I have never suffered the way those who have lost everything are now suffering. For this, I can only thank God, because I really don’t believe it was luck.
Next to me, my wife sleeps. In the morning, we will talk about the storm she slept through, the one I woke to—just in case. I wish I could sleep the way she sleeps.
And as I suspected, when asked about the storm, she said, “It rained last night?”
© 2011 J. Clark