North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL


May 27, 2014

Danielle Cater: Help others during clean up time

NORTH JEFFERSON — I'm not the only one who is thankful for the storm technology we now have.

Thanks to plenty of warning and preparation time, people in Jefferson County were able to prepare for the storms that ripped through our area last night. Schools let out early and businesses closed up so people could get to their safe places with their families and take cover from the storms.

My husband’s great-grandparents were killed in the 1998 tornadoes that passed through the state, so storms are something we don’t take lightly.

I grew up in a house with windows along the front of the living room, and we never took cover from storms. Instead, we would watch the huge oak tree in the front yard sway back and forth, and get irritated when the power went out or when weather coverage took the place of our favorite shows.

Times have changed since then. I’m sure if you went to my parents’ house during Monday's storms, they would have been sitting in the living room (by the huge window), watching the weather. These days, I live on a mountain, and I have my baby girls and husband to watch after, so no more laughing off the storms. We’ve started taking them very seriously.

By 10 p.m. Monday night, we had our girls wrapped up in blankets in the bathroom while we continued to watch the weather. I dozed off a few times, because when you hear the same lines over and over again, it starts to get boring. And that's even when they are talking about tornadoes in our area.

But my husband was Johnny on the Spot. He was telling the weather people where the storm was going next, but they didn’t seem to care that he was talking to the television. And every time the weather would get rough, he would walk to the door to see what was coming.

Yep, all of those preparations for safety (the coats, knives, gloves, bottles of water and candles in the safe room), and here we are standing on the front porch just waiting for the storms to carry us to Oz. I guess in our minds, as long as the kids were safe, the most important things were handled.

As the reports rolled in, our hearts became heavy as we learned that a student from the University of Alabama had been killed with more than 10 more dead across the state. Closer to home, it was sad to see the old Fisherman Shop, Kimberly Church of God and Kimberly Fire Department torn apart by the tornadoes.

As soon as I woke the girls up Tuesday morning, I told them, “God took care of us last night.” They didn’t seem too excited about that until I showed them some of the pictures of the damage in our town. That’s when they realized that it wasn’t just a fun spend-the-night-party in the bathroom; it was the hand of God taking care of us during these storms.

I am so grateful for the meteorologists and the technology we have today. I am also thankful God protected our communities from any fatalities during these storms.

There will be plenty of cleanup efforts throughout Jefferson County this week, so do your part in helping get things back to normal in your neighborhood. That may be a small act, like calling your neighbor and making sure they are OK, or loading up a chainsaw and going to help clear trees from properties.

No matter how big or how small, do your part to show others what a great community we have by bonding together and helping through this time.

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