By Sen. Greg Reed
It has been a year since Alabama was ravaged by tornadoes, the likes of which had never been seen and hopefully will never ever be seen again. It was one of those events in which a person can recount where he or she was the moment the catastrophe happened. As a newly-elected state senator and a citizen of this great state, I was at a loss for words and struggled to find any type of protocol to follow.
First and foremost, I wanted to make sure that all of my family and friends were safe and accounted for. After hearing the good news of no injuries, I began to drive around the district. What I witnessed on that drive was utter devastation and is now a blur because of the widespread amount of destruction I saw.
For three straight weeks I rode throughout the entire district examining as much of the damage as possible. I was struck by the intense wreckage that the tornados had caused in my hometown of Cordova in Walker County. Seeing families in shock as they viewed the remains of their homes, and business owners amazed at their leveled shops and offices, I was reminded of the reality that we are never in complete control of the circumstances that affect each of our daily lives.
In our lifetimes, we have all witnessed major global events like natural disasters. In those situations, stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things are a reassuring testimony to what’s best in humanity.
And so it was last spring when nature’s wrath robbed many lives, treasures and necessities. What ensued was Alabama at its best – neighbor helping neighbor; churches opening their doors to the displaced; restaurants serving meals to those without power and water; medical personnel offering aid and comfort to those who were injured. People came from outside the affected areas just to lend assistance in perhaps what is best described as unbridled compassion toward anonymous victims who were in desperate need. The outpouring of support from across our state and country was amazing and encouraging to those who were suffering.
I can recall being with Governor Bentley and Lt. Governor Ivey as we visited a family in Walker County that had lost loved ones in the storm and the emotional struggle that family was going through. It was a gut wrenching experience for all of us and one that we will never forget.
While words cannot adequately describe the emotions of April 27, 2011, what we learned from that tragic day is that nature’s wrath can be horrific, but it is always followed by God’s grace. The losses we endured may have been great, but the recovery effort has been strong. We will continue to rebuild and persevere. There is good news from Pleasant Grove to Concord, from Cordova to Aldridge, from Sipsey to Argo, and all across my district as well as the rest of our great state. With continued cooperation, hard work and God’s help, we will continue to recover. It is my privilege to represent the resilient people of Senate District 5.
Senator Greg Reed represents all of Walker and parts of Jefferson, Tuscaloosa and Winston Counties in the Alabama Senate.