Saturday, July 2, 2011

Part Two - Tornado

If you are just reading this part one of this story can be found here.

As I started talking to Lex the magnitude of how bad it was shocking. She was explaining to me how there was a woman trapped in the gas station down the street from her apartment. The Big Lots on the the opposite corner from her apartment was gone.

The windows of her apartment were busted out and her car was heavily damaged with the windows being shattered because she had decided not to stay at track practice like I had first assumed. Eventually it was determined that her car was in fact totalled.

Then I turned on the T.V. and started watching the news, this was probably a mistake. I couldn't believe the images that I was seeing. I was truely stunned and horrified. I think the one that stands out to me most was the one I saw on the Today Show the next day. It is the one where the guy is standing with his camera facing the hospital and it looks so close to the hospital. Well Alexis apartment is just south of the hospital. It really hit me then how close this monster was to her.

We headed up to Tuscaloosa at about 9:00 Thursday morning to pick Alexis up and bring her home. As we drove into town we went in a back way so didn't see to much damage. We parked near the hospital and proceeded to walk over the railroad tracks. We then entered a war zone. The buildings looked like they had exploded. Across the street from Alexis apartment complex was gone. The parts of the buildings that were standing had marks on them signfing that they had been searched. Just like what people saw during Hurricane Katrina. This is what we could see from Alexis front door.

Her friends were very excited to see adults and were ready to go home. I don't blame them I was ready to go home. They then told us about their experiences. Alexis left track practice early because the weather had taken a turn for the worse and she wanted to go home. Her strength coach asked her to stay but she told him that she would be fine.

She headed home and the sirens started. The sirens had been going off almost every other day for three weeks so it didn't really affect her. She jumped in the shower. Meanwhile her other roommates were downstairs. One was cooking a snack and the other was in her room. The one cooking heard something and ran upstairs and looked out her window and thats when she saw the monster headed towards them. She banged on Alexis shower door and told her to get out and get downstairs.

Alexis grabbed a towel, her dog, and of course being a college student her cell phone and ran down the stairs. All three of the girls and the two dogs crouched in the closet while they heard the windows break. At some point Alexis called her best friend Stephen. All he heard them breathing real hard and loud noises. Then he said it was just silent and her started yelling their names. He wasn't sure what happened.

Alexis came back on the line said they were okay and she had to call her dad. That is about the time my dad called me. Around the same time several of Alexis friends were on campus watching the tornado barely miss the hospital and just knew that Alexis apartment was in the path. In fact her good friend Billy along with several of his fraternity brothers headed towards her complex thinking they needed to look for her. As they drove down one of the main streets they could see through what use to be a neighborhood and saw Alexis apartment was standing and stopped. They started helping people who were trapped.

When we left Tuscaloosa that afternoon, I had changed. I have become more thankful and the realization that life is to short and you need to love every minute of it because things can change in an instant.


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