God sees the big picture so don't despair when your prayers aren't answered. He might just be saving your life!
This has been quite a last two weeks here. You haven't noticed because I had worked ahead and had posts ready and automatically posting each day.
On Wednesday, April 27th, 240 tornadoes ravaged northern Alabama. Thirty-eight counties have been declared disaster areas as of when I last heard. I've never lived through a day like that where all day and well into the night there were sirens every few moments, tornado sirens, emergency vehicle sirens, police sirens, you name it. I've also never heard of entire towns being wiped off the map, but now there are several near us.
My oldest daughter, Ginger, works at Starbucks not far from my house. It's a tiny box almost entirely of glass and too tiny for there to be any actual safe place in it. Yes there's a freezer, but it's too small to really help. Twice during the day she saw wall clouds go right past/over the store and put everyone in the bathrooms.
She had opened the store at 5 AM before we knew anything was coming. During the day the closer called and said she couldn't make it in. That meant Ginger was working till 9:30 PM. You might remember that Ginger is single and bought her first home last June. A former co-worker who lives near Ginger's house called and said there was no way to get to Ginger's house, the road was blocked at both ends with all manner of trees down and emergency vehicles and the storms weren't done yet. I took her some dinner as she'd been there all day and couldn't leave for a meal. There were several huge trees and a power pole down between my house and her store, just a couple of blocks. There was a large tree down at the church very close to her store.
I asked her step-father to go by her area on his way home from work at 3:30 PM to see if he could get through and see if her house was ok. He couldn't even turn onto her road and police said no one could get through that night definitely and maybe longer.
We lost power a little later and still they wouldn't let her close the store. It turned out that every trunk line bringing us power from TVA had been severed and all of north Alabama was without power. We didn't have a radio. We had one flash light, a couple of candles and a box of matches thanks to having them left from the seder meal!! Cell phones had almost no charge and barely worked at all for almost a week, of course land lines were out too.
At 7:15 PM she was finally allowed to close the store. As she knew she couldn't get home, she came here for the night. As every bit of food in every frig and freezer in northern Alabama started to rot, we had one steak we split three ways cooked over what was almost the last of the propane in our grill (which only lasted to cook one more time). Subsequent eating got very interesting, but praise God we never lost water!
The next morning we tried every approach possible and finally managed to get to her property with power lines over and under our car and trees everywhere. She had a very heavily treed lot with enormous trees so tall I can't say. As we neared her house all we could see was solid trees down in her yard, still twice the height of her house even on their sides. When we got out, we could find the front of the house and it looked ok except a few "light" branches on the roof...we thought.
We walked around one side. I was taking pictures for insurance and she sat on a tree and looked up at her bedroom...the back half of the house and the deck were gone and it was solid trees. There was an immense tree where her bed used to be and it had many branches as wide as me...inside the house.
In my human wisdom, I had prayed fervently all day that God would make them close the store so she could go home and be "safe". That's reasonable since her store is so utterly dangerous, a tiny glass box. Watch for God here and read on.
Now is time to pause and reflect. I bombarded heaven all day to close the glass box store and let her go home where she'd be "safe". She was planning to crawl into bed and watch a movie on TV. She would have been in the bed that was no more, where the immense tree was. The little table next to it that my Daddy made when I was tiny was pushed right through the floor into the crawl space. Once we were able to get some information, we found out that every tornado in our area (at least 8) went directly over her house and the last one passed just shortly before the store was allowed to close, a half hour drive away.
I have been so full of praise to God for protecting her that it only started to hit me this morning in worship what our reality would be today if God had granted me my constant, passionate prayers. In human wisdom, my prayers were right, but would have absolutely killed my precious daughter. God in His infinite wisdom and love protected her not only from the storm, but from her mother's love. Praise God for saying NO!
Her house is destroyed and though we labored many days trying to dry salvaged things in the sun (no power for a week or more), there will be little salvageable. But she is fine and even her cats stayed in the wreckage till we could get to them the next day. She, as always, amazes me with her effortless perfect attitudes and behaviors. I am so grateful and so proud.
Many have lost loved ones, homes and even jobs. The suffering is immense. It is the largest natural disaster in Alabama history they are saying.
The first day was the hardest. Working as fast as we could to try to get things out as the remaining portion of roof was clearly coming down and I didn't know how long we had. It was so hot, no water, no food and worst of all, no cell coverage and dying batteries so we couldn't even let anyone know what had happened and get help. Trees so thick around the house it was very difficult to even get around the house. One of her trees had crushed a van in her neighbor's drive. We are told that three giant trees fell on/in her house. She does not have a wooded lot any more.
God sent us help in the form of two young teens from next door. They were alone, unhurt and their home was untouched. Only the car was crushed. They were such a blessing helping Ginger and I get all but one room emptied into the garage (which was basically unharmed). God bless John & Tess. There are no words to thank them. And they helped despite very painful things in their lives just now. They helped us some on other days too and then helped other people. God bless them!
Late in the afternoon Ginger's aunt and uncle showed up with her cousin and his wife. The men started on the trees. Her uncle heads the volunteer disaster relief crew at their Church of Christ and they travel the US helping when there are disasters. What a happy surprise to see them show up and more so as we were physically spent and sunburned. I have lots of health issues and had had hand surgery just a week earlier, so it was a huge challenge for me, but you know that Mama bears can do most anything for their cubs. Ginger's father came for a little while and was able to remove a few things from what had been her bedroom that we had given up on.
They are knowledgeable on such things and pointed out how you could tell the tornadoes had lifted up immediately before her property. They pointed out that the entirely wooded lot next to hers had trees broken very low then right at her property line they are broken higher and higher. Had God not caused this to happen, there would have been no chance of salvaging any of her memories. There's a tree trunk in her yard broken even higher and the top (where branches were) is literally twisted off.
A wonderful older neighbor, Ben, finished getting trees off his pasture fence and came over. He figured that we could tear through a remaining part of the living room wall and break into her closet to retrieve some clothes for her. I don't think many will really be ok, but it was such a blessing and I hadn't thought of breaking in from the other side.
Ginger was able to contact her sister in West Virginia who then started her insurance claim for her on line. That was a blessing. But it was days before her agent could be contacted and now only today that an adjuster came and she is still waiting to be able to move into an apartment because of the insurance not doing right.
The next morning as we arrived I was utterly stunned to see the property full of men with chain saws and big trucks with Mayfair Church of Christ Disaster Relief on them everywhere. They had come and started removing the trees and her aunt and cousin had gotten in the garage and started spreading things to dry in the sun again. I know they have done this for others, but it never crossed my mind they would come and help my daughter. Happy tears and praising God time again. All told they worked off and on for three days until they had removed all the trees they could before they were simply too large without cranes and such, and they tarped what was left. And such a marvel, they had food trucks that drove neighborhoods and two days we had food and water at lunch! Another day a kind neighbor, Carol (married to Ben) brought us lunch and wouldn't eat her own until we were done! Amazing people.
After a few days, a couple from Good Shepherd Methodist Church came by and simply said, what do you need? They pulled the sofa, love seat and ruined (now stinking and bug attracting) carpet out to the road. Then they pulled appliances into her garage as they might still work. Amazing.
The night of the second day, my youngest daughter, Melissa, arrived after buying supplies for us (as the power was still off and would be off for a long time) and driving 11 hrs. from West Virginia where she is to close on her first house on the 21st. She is always an amazing help and once there was no more we could do at Ginger's house, she went on and worked with the Mayfair team at other homes until she had to return home to work Saturday morning. God protected her too. Her aunt loaned her work boots and it was God that she did as that day she got a nail all the way through the heal poking through to irritate, but not injure her foot. Extra good as she has no health insurance. Thank you Lord!
The Mayfair crew also cleared the trees from her neighbor's yard and got them off their now smooshed car before they moved on to other homes. They are still out working now, all volunteer.
It's ironic...with two yards full of men in trees with chain saws and on the debris of the house, it was me, turning wet clothes spread on a felled tree to dry that fell hip deep into the hole left when the tree was uprooted and had to be pulled out! LOL kept a better eye out after that one!
We have seen the best and the worst in people this last two weeks. We had strangers come help and we had a scam artist try to take advantage. He was even advertising on the radio!!! Praise God for revealing the scam to us so she wasn't further hurt. And we've experienced far worse than that I'm sad to say. But for every person who was inexcusably bad, there were many more who were good and kind. I was impressed by how well our big town did with dusk to dawn curfews and treating every stop as a 4-way stop for so long due to no power. People were cautious and polite. I'm so proud of our town! And the utility and emergency people are to be so highly praised! What a blessing. I've heard even some from other places came to help, but ironically, even though we were victims and lived through it, without power we have missed all coverage and I know little about the big picture.
Finally today the insurance adjuster came. It was not good news. It needs to be bulldozed and rebuilt from scratch, but you have to know that the insurance companies are trying to cut every corner as they are being hit with such numbers of claims. He said they will "repair". We need a structural engineer to look at it to protect her. Please keep Ginger in your prayers for a good resolution. She's also had quite a nightmare trying to get into an apartment in the mean time. The insurance company is overwhelmed I know, so we give them grace, but man are they not doing well and not doing right by her so far.
Please keep Alabama in your prayers as so very many are suffering so much worse than we are.
Aside from how God saved my precious daughter, my favorite story, was told by the Grandmother herself to one of the Mayfair workers who told us. She was alone with three grandchildren, a baby, a young child and an 8 yr. old I think. When the mother came home, a neighbor ran out and told her not to go up there, that they were all dead. She said of course she had to go up there. She saw the four of them standing and staring at all that was left of the house, a hallway, leaning. That is where they had been. One child asked where the man was? Mom said there was no man. The other child said yes there was, that he had laid over them and told them not to be afraid, that they would be all right. Again she said there was no man. The boy said, "It was GOD dummy!" Praise You Lord forever more!
Please keep my daughter and all of north Alabama in your prayers.
Now for your freebie! Since I don't have time to make a new freebie just now, I have gathered all the Emerald Isle pieces that I gave you one at a time into one download. If you missed any pieces or didn't snag it earlier, now's the time! Enjoy!