This week we have been helping out at the Central Church of Christ in Forest Lake. This entire neighborhood has been decimated into rubble. Many houses have been able to get through the storms with minimal damage, but for the majority, they were left with a pile of trash that has formed around the cores of their houses. Some of these people will never return to their homes. Others have had to struggle with the pain and agony of demolishing their own house because they were unable to receive assistance from anyone. He fortunately was able to drudge up the money to pay for that but so many others don’t have those resources. These next few pictures are taking you through some of the houses and their stories in this community.
In this home, a mother and her five month baby lived. It was her parents home. She heard the tornado coming and went into the basement to ride out the storm. When she felt it was safe to come out from hiding, she climbed up the stairs and to her surprise, her entire home was gone. With the exception of a kitchen wall, a baby crib a couple more walls and her parents piano, the house was no longer defined as a livable space. Can you imagine coming up ten minutes later and seeing your entire house gone?
This house is owned by an elderly couple. That red on their window says that the house is no longer safe to live in. Why you ask? Well the roof has disappeared. If you were to walk around the building, you would see that a tree has come down into their second and first story bathrooms. They husband was trying to get him and his wife to the bathroom when the storm hit. Fortunately for them, her bad hips, and weakness due to chemotherapy made it so they were not able to get there.
They both have been stopping by, saying hello in great spirits and having a lunch. They have been trying to get as much as they can out of the house on a one hour trip each day. It is just too hot to get any more than that.
I’m not completely sure of the entire story about this house, but I do know that the people living here were out of town and when they got back, they just turned around. Can you imagine getting to your house after being on vacation and only have a standing fireplace? Thankfully though, they were away from the house.
The family that lives here is staying with family in Birmingham. When the father found out that his insurance wouldn’t cover the destruction of his house and the cost of taking it all away so that a contractor could look at the property, he rented th machinery and tore the rest of the house down himself. He had his wife and family stay in Birmingham while he did this extremely emotional task. What if you had to take a bulldozer to your family home? Would you be able to? My other question is did he hav that extra money available for these added costs?
Directly across the street where we are doing food service from out of a motor home, this house stands there, bare naked to the world. The story of this house is the meaning of life and how we all can be gone at any time. While you look at the picture, take in the couch, and the wall that is laying on the couch. You can see the stairs and then as you look right, you see a door. That is this man’s kitchen. To the right of that, is a coat closet and that is where this man sat through the storm; that two foot by four-foot space.
There are stories and stories like this: The people survived the tornadoes that came through here. There are also stories about Joplin, the floods of Memphis and the Mississippi River, currently the Missouri River and the wild fires in Arizona but what happens after? It is nearly two months after the tornadoes and so many people still need so much. The Red Cross has left, the Salvation Distribution center is shutting down next week and FEMA is beginning to shut down offices but so much is still needed. Is this happening at every disaster area? I have to think that it is and does but while we are here, we will find out how help can still be given and what needs to be done to get that help. This is what we will work on while we are still here in Tuscaloosa.