On the morning of April 27th, 2011, I woke up at 5 am to start blogging. I had a dentist appointment so I wanted to get posts scheduled while I was gone to keep all the deals coming to you all. Around 5:45 I checked Weather.com and was shocked to see a tornado warning for Birmingham. I turned on the news and there was a surprise line of storms (we were expecting the evening storms). The news said it was headed straight towards us, so I woke up the family and we went to sit in the hall.
The house began to shake. The wind was howling and rattling the windows. The front door kept beeping (house alarm) and trying to open. We were all scared and praying for God to protect us. At one point everything got VERY quiet. Then it started back with a rage. We believe a tornado touched down just behind our house at that time. After it quieted down, we went to assess the damage.
This is a picture my friend Michelle took from her backyard. This building is directly behind her house and her house is just 20 houses up the street from mine. That is a steel building that toppled in the storm.
Our church is less than a mile from the house. The steeple was found 45 feet from the building on the ground. We lost part of the church roof, a bunch of awnings and there was a gas leak they had to get under control.
We were very lucky. The hand of God was definitely over us. Our house suffered minimal damage. We lost 1 sheet of shingles. I spoke with a lady up the street who had every window blown out of the back of her house, her roof was destroyed and she lost a bunch of siding off the side of her house. I drove through town and it was like driving through a war zone. Some areas of the road only had one lane open for both flows of traffic because the other side was blocked by trees. Twice I had to drive under a tree that was hanging on a power line. Homes, businesses, fences were all crushed by trees.
Later that same evening, we watched a tornado rip through the town of Tuscaloosa (about 75 miles from here). The tornado was over a mile wide and went right through the heart of the town. It then made it’s way up towards Birmingham and it turned and missed us by just a few miles, but my mother in law who lives 10 miles up the road saw it from her window.
So what did I do as soon as the storm had cleared? I called my pastor and asked him if I could organize an online donation drive to help those in need. I posted about it here on CouponingtoDisney.com and many other bloggers shared it as well. Here are some pictures of what we as couponers were able to do for those who had been affected by these storms…
In total, we received over 700 boxes from all 50 states. 700 boxes from 700 people who took the time to make an impact on a strangers life without expecting anything in return. If you are one of the ones that sent a box, thank you! It made a difference.
Because the damage was so widespread across the south and then Joplin, MO was hit just a few weeks later, a bunch of bloggers came together and organized an All You magazine donation drive. The out pour from the readers was once again incredible. We were able to raise a total of $7,000 for Disaster relief! That money was donated to my church and put towards area disaster recovery including stump removal, landscape repairs and other damage that is not covered by home owners policies. In all, my church removed over 200 trees without charging the resident a dime. It was a wonderful way to make a massive difference in the community.
So thank you all, thank you so much.