A less quick note posted from a borrowed chair in a quiet Walmart aisle

Selma is officially a disaster area, with visits from Governor Meemaw and our senators. My grandmother passed away the night before the tornado hit, so some other displaced relatives and I are rooming at the family place. It has heat and coffee, two essentials since the temps plummeted after the storm.

I had no idea this was coming. We were told to expect a quick round of thunderstorms, some possibly severe. This is Alabama — that’s like a fog advisory in London. I was eating lunch at the Downtowner when sirens went off and I bolted across the street to the library to get inside shelter before things went sideways.

The library, it turns out, is an excellent shelter. We never HEARD the winds that terrified people in the Bayou Rouge Bistro nearby. We were receiving reports on our phones from friends and neighbors announcing that this or that was destroyed, that It was headed this way or that, etc. But inside the auditorium of the library, it felt like any other day except for the lack of electricity.

We emerged to astonishment. Downtown was ravaged, but so were other areas. My roommates and I were all away from home when it struck, and roads were so impassable that I spent two hours trying to find a way to my residence before giving up. The highway east was savaged as well A neighbor assured me that it was fine. I returned to downtown since I couldn’t go anywhere else — roads were filled with people trying to find ways out or home — and checked on friends, spending time helping them clean their yards. Something burned ferociously.

Near dusk I was able to get home. It was fine save for a tree fallen on my bike and garden shed, but the shed itself was still standing. I had lamps and a propane heater and was not terribly put out, but chose to decamp to my grandmother’s house following the funeral on Friday.

As someone who cherishes Selma’s historic architecture, I’m saddened at the devastation but glad we had no fatalities. I am going to try to add some photos to this but am on my phone so it may look odd. I am hoping power will be restored sometime next week. Currently reading Ed Abbey biography.

The above is the bypass completely blocked. Very eerie.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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12 Responses to A less quick note posted from a borrowed chair in a quiet Walmart aisle

  1. Annette says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother’s passing.
    So sorry about the tornado.
    You’ve had a lot of stress lately.
    Hoping things settle down for a long while.

  2. Oh my! I’m glad you are safe, but I’m terribly sorry to see the destruction in Selma.

  3. Angela says:

    Wow, I’m glad you’re okay and hopefully your hometown will rebuild painlessly. Tornados can be terrifying.

  4. Marian says:

    Thank you for sharing the updates and photos… it make it more real for those of us so far away and inexperienced in these weather events. My condolences for you and your family as well.

    • Thanks! She’d been declining rather badly the last few months. We’d been keeping a vigil since December, so it was not surprising. No less saddening, but better than a shock, I think.

  5. I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother.
    Thank you for sharing your story and photos of such an extraordinary event. So much for a community to go through.

  6. This is really heartbreaking. I do not read or watch news, and other than what I’ve read from you, I had no idea how bad this was. Hope that power gets up and going ASAP.

    • Thank you! It’s a gut punch to a town that’s long struggled economically, between the Air Force base closing and the city pinning its hopes on tourists who always ride over from Montgomery, take selfies in front of The Bridge, and then go back to Montgomery. Hoping we can find a way to turn disaster into opportunity.

      • In response to your last sentence, I think you guys have done just that: an opportunity to rise to the occasion and serve one another (as you shared in your 1/17 post). Isn’t it amazing what people are able to do for each other in time of need? This is what unites people.

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