Georgia, particularly Barnesville, Georgia, isn't the only thing on my mind right now. Alabama is too. And, well, all of the states that were hit by last week's deadly tornadoes.
It was the gentle fluttering of angel wings as they landed and gently wrapped their protective wings around those in the storm's path. There's no doubt that some of the miraculous stories of survival among the terror of the tornadoes are due to the delicate strength of God's couriers of protection. Some of those angels also came to take hundreds of precious souls Home.
The heart-wrenching task of trying to erase the terrible images from that day will never end for some. This week, we're seeing some of the faces behind the names of those who were lost. News media often toss around numbers. But, when you take a look at the names, the faces, behind those numbers it really brings the magnitude of the South's grief to light. As you glance through the list of identified victims, you
see entire families who perished together that night.
Both of my parents are originally from Alabama. We have a lot of family there. As often happens with time and distance, many of my Alabama relatives have slowly drifted away. I can only pray that all of them were well out of the storm's path that day.
Flashlights and first aid kits may be in short supply in Alabama right now but grief, my friends, is not. At last count, over 250 had died in Alabama. Entire towns have been obliterated. An astonishing list of nearly 400 are still missing in Alabama.
They're desperate for help. Desperate for working hands, supplies and the basics of life. Desperate for hope and strength to face the trying days, weeks, months and years ahead of them.
Today, I took time to peruse the list of names of the victims. Just looking at the names you can imagine the heartbreak. An elderly woman who had beaten the odds to make it to 97 lost her life that day in St. Claire County. The youngest Alabama victim lived in Tuscaloosa. She was only 8 months old.
While it is just a list of names of people most of us don't know, when I got to the list for Ruth in Marshall County, my heart sank. Of the five reported dead, all were Hallmarks. From their ages, it would appear it was three generations of the same family. A note is made on the list that the twin sister of one of those taken by the storm is in the intensive care unit of a Birmingham hospital. Julie Hallmark, just 17 months, is fighting for her life without some of those who loved her most. It's hard to think about what this tiny little girl has lost. The story of the Hallmark family is heart wrenching.
And, of course, there are the injured. Over 1000 in Tuscaloosa alone. Over 1 million Alabama homes and businesses were without power as of Saturday.
Overwhelming. Just overwhelming.
They're desperate for help. In part because many of those they would depend upon, fire and police and other emergency personnel, had their buildings and equipment completely wiped out by the twisters.
And, then there are the looters. They always seem to survive don't they? I think it has to with that whole cockroach theory. Cockroaches will always survive to plunder for crumbs.
Perhaps one of the most touching and poignant feature pieces done on the deadly twisters, was penned by Joe Kovac of The Macon Telegraph. I'm linking to it. Please take a moment to read this story. It is amazing writing about some amazing stories of survival and loss in Barnesville.
I can't claim to have the honor of having known any of those who lost their lives that tragic night. But, some of the pictures of those lost have touched my soul and broken my heart. A Facebook page honoring victims of the tornadoes has posted photos of some of those who perished.
Just seven weeks ago, a jubilant Carrie Grier Lowe, 26, of Pleasant Grove gave birth to a beautiful son. Her husband and newborn son survived the storms. Sadly, the new mother did not. She is pictured here with the joy of motherhood clearly shining from her soul. Witnesses said she was found still huddled over her son's infant seat, in an effort to protect him. Her last act in life was giving everything she had to protect the tiny boy she had just given birth to.
And, then there's Lieutenant Wade Sharp of Louisiana. Lt. Sharp did the only thing he could think of when the tornado suddenly descended upon him and his daughter. They were camping in a Mississippi park when the ferocious winds began whipping through their tent. The 40-year-old dad flung his body over his sleeping nine-year-old daughter to protect her.
Just minutes after, a sweetgum tree was torn from its foundation and fell through the tent, striking Lt. Wade on the back of the head. He died instantly. Miraculously, and to his credit, his daughter survived.
They're just a few faces behind the hundreds of names of those we lost last week. Too often, we just see the numbers. The story takes on a life of its own when you can see the faces of those whose lives were taken too soon by the unpredictable fury of nature.
For every name, let us all remember there is a face. A story. A life that was cherished by those who knew them. For every name, there is immeasurable and almost unbearable grief for those who loved them.
Tonight, I write you with a heart that is convinced that there are lots of heroes among us. There are a lot of angels among us as well. A tip of the Grasshopper's hat to all of you who are putting your own lives on hold to be someone in need's angel or hero in the aftermath of this tragedy. You're giving help. You're giving hope.
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