The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hands on...Concord

This morning Bobby and I took part in a volunteer effort to assist victims of the tornado in Concord, AL. Concord had not gotten a lot of attention, but they probably will now. It was reported that at least 3 people were found alive today, having survived in their basement, trapped after the storm. Fox News had a reporter in Concord today, as did Canadian TV and others. That turned out to be a false report, but there is still hope.

The house we were working at had a basement, and the owner's family was there looking through debris. They said that 8 people rode out the storm in the basement, and all are OK. That is almost miraculous, considering this is the house today.

But we peered down into the basement and could see the way that they got out after the storm.

But imagine huddling in the basement of a substantial brick house, and it crashing down above you. Fear.

Then cautiously emerging, in the dark, or near dark, to find every home and almost every tree in the neighborhood gone. Then, having to walk out among twisted and downed trees, power lines, vehicles and house parts.

But they were alive. A woman who lived across the street was not so fortunate, we were told.

I looked at the house on Google Earth, and while I won't reveal its exact location out of privacy, it reminded me of the home I grew up in, fully brick, two car garage. It was not a home you would expect to come down easily.

Today was the first day that residents were able to return in this area. It was very emotional, to say the least, for people to come into the area, and see this.

Notice this is a Hoover police vehicle. Multiple agencies are contributing to the effort. Thanks to all.

What you are seeing here is after partial recovery. The streets have been cleared and some of the rubble pushed to the side.

But at the house we worked at alongside family members, we searched and salvaged what we could. Some baby and children's clothes, a few Christmas ornaments, some handmade by one of the children, and a few pictures. At least they have those things.

We talked with a crew from Canadian TV. The reporter was a bit miffed at the (other) media, for focusing on The Wedding, rather than this, the greatest natural disaster since Katrina, he said. Of course, I didn't see a story by him (yet) on their web site, or I would have linked to it. But he did say he hoped "we" (meaning Canadians, I assume) would not forget the disaster. I told him I hoped we (Americans) would not either.

Many of the people we talked with were affiliated with Concord Highland Baptist Church. The church was heavily damaged, but we helped the minister of music retrieve some of his audio equipment.

Up the street a bit was Steve's Grocery. One of the owners, Ernie Mundi, Jr., died in the storm. He was also a realtor in Hoover, former owner of the Baskin-Robbins in Bessemer, and a bus driver for the Hoover School system. He had a family.

The people of Concord, at least those we talked to, still have their faith and their love of country.

This is not the only American flag we saw.

And let me say this right here. At a time of tragedy there is no place for airing differences of opinion or to let petty things come between a person and those that need help. This is about America, its people and doing what is right.

Here are a couple of more shots of the total devastation of a neighborhood.

There will be plenty of opportunity to volunteer to help our neighbors in the coming weeks. This recovery will not take place over the next few days. It will take months. Hands on Birmingham is coordinating much of the volunteer effort. Please visit their web site and sign up, and click on tornado relief to see what the opportunities are. Visit often, as new opportunities will be added daily as the EMA concludes search efforts and changes to recovery efforts.

This is one of the "free food" stations (as the sign said) where residents were waiting to enter the area this morning. So many people who would find and have to quickly accept that their stuff is gone. What they knew in their heart is confirmed.

And life goes on.


Anonymous said...

Joe, where is Concord?

Joe said...

Concord is in Jefferson County, AL, north of Bessemer and Hueytown. 15th Street in Bessemer leads to Concord, as does 18th St and Allison-Bonnet. Concord folks sort of have a Bessemer address, if you use google the results say "Bessemer" for some addresses there.

Dale Jones said...

My father was the Minister of Music at Concord Highlands Bapt Church (the church shown) for several years duing the late 70s and early 80s. It is very very sad to see that church and that community destroyed.