The string of tornadoes that hit the Southeast has struck an agonizing chord with me, as I remember the April, 1998 tornado that ripped through our neighborhood of Dunwoody, Georgia. That was only an F2 and we took a direct hit. The #10 photo in the above gallery was our former home.
I won’t go into the details of escaping with our lives in the basement stairwell at the second the twister struck, as I clutched my two blessedly small toddlers against me to shield them from the windows, doors, roof, and who knows what else that blew through the house and got sucked outside. Suffice it to say that I was so glad that me and my family and neighbors remained unscathed, that we survived, it didn’t occur to me to grieve over the loss of material goods.
And because I didn’t want to further upset my impressionable kids about the event (although they slept at my chest during the five to ten seconds we found ourselves in the midst of what sounded like a giant blender), at the aftermath I deliberately maintained my composure and put on an air of cheerful acceptance.
To this day I have suppressed my grief, and have never really let myself feel the pain of the losses we experienced. Most painful was not the kids’ toys or clothes or furniture as these are all replaceable, but it was the loss of the old-growth trees that most dreadfully hurt me. The twister literally transformed the environment, our micro-climate, in a matter of seconds.
Seeing the photos of the utter devastation wrought by the recent powerful F4 and F5 tornadoes, I find myself getting choked up, and do mourn for their losses in a way that I never mourned for my own.
To all those who survived these twisters: The path toward recovery will be long and frustrating, but you will rebuild your businesses and your lives. As time passes, you may even find some humor to lighten your days. Your future is ahead of you. You are survivors.