April 28, 2011 10:24:00 AM
Yes, the power went out and sirens sounded. But in Columbus and Lowndes County, and much of Oktibbeha County, a miracle among miracles was happening Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, all around us was hell on earth.
In Columbus, the sun was breaking through the clouds, with touches of blue sky visible, as tornadoes were on the ground to the north -- in Okolona, Wren and, most tragically, Smithville. Just to the south, a tornado touched down near Macon. Minutes later, Tuscaloosa was devastated ... and then parts of Birmingham.
We experienced a parting of the seas. Historic, fierce storms raged toward Columbus, split to each side of us, passed us and closed up behind.
The sober, scientific view: This was a random, unpredictable weather event, and Columbus and Starkville were lucky. The religious among us certainly credit the grace of God. Others of us lacking religion found it Wednesday.
The power blackout brought with it a news blackout -- not just for the public, but frustratingly for emergency responders and news outlets, including us. When power went down in Columbus and Starkville, no one could say when the power would come back on. Rumors swirled that it could be days, even though we were sideswiped by the storm.
Wednesday brought us a "unique weather event," as one forecaster said -- a once in a lifetime tragedy for this area, perhaps. More than 100 are already confirmed dead in Mississippi and Alabama; the number could rise into the hundreds. Hundreds are certainly dead across the Southeast and nationwide, in the swath of this terrible storm.
This is northeast Mississippi and northwest Alabama''s Katrina. Like the day of the hurricane, those who experienced the devastation will always remember where they were, and what they were doing, on April 27, 2011.
Our foot-tapping in the largely untouched Golden Triangle, as we waited for the power to come back, now seems selfish, even trite.
We in Starkville, Columbus and West Point should be humbled. We should take stock of our good fortune, and use whatever dividends we have left to reach out to our nearby neighbors. Find ways to volunteer, and more importantly, give what you can to the Red Cross and other charities that are aiding those touched by the devastation.
justme1961 commented at 4/28/2011 11:22:00 AM:
Amen. Everyone was so concerned about not having any power because "Survivor" or "American Idol" was on tv. I sat and couldn't help but think: this is so insignificant when our neighbors have lost everything, some even their lives. Many Lowndes Countians had friends or family members who lost their lives or their homes or their place of employment. Be thankful to God above for what we have and take a moment and realize how truly unworthy we all are for the Grace that He has bestowed upon us. We don't deserve to be safe any more than our neighboring counties and states deserve to be harmed. May God bless us all and show us how to use this tragedy to bring us to our knees is thanks and humility.
ready4achange commented at 4/28/2011 11:23:00 AM:
We are indeed the lucky ones! I am ever so thankful and prayerful for those who have lost so much and the many families dealing with lives lost!
jp2011 commented at 4/28/2011 3:36:00 PM:
Times like this make you think that you were more well prepared for these types of storms or any other disaster. Those people in Japan were mostly unprepared with lack of food and water. Just look at those people bum rushing the stores after the power went out, they were all unprepared. It doesn't take much to put back a little bit every time you buy groceries, it accumulates over time. Stock up on water and food and you don't have to suffer as much. God forbid the way the economy is going people need to learn
bigmontana commented at 4/28/2011 8:27:00 PM:
We were extremely lucky yesterday... but many of our neighbors need help! Please donate clothes and anything else that is practical to the storm victims around us! Red Cross, Salvation Army, and many of the local churches are collecting donations and some are even asking for volunteers to assist in Tuscaloosa this weekend!
greengranny commented at 4/28/2011 8:44:00 PM:
We in the Golden Triangle are indeed blessed to have escaped the damage that Smithville, Okolona, Wren, and Tuscaloosa experienced. We all need to pitch in the help those so desperately in need. This afternoon I saw about 25 maintenance trucks headed toward Hwy. 82, I'm sure on their way to Tuscaloosa. I saw a truck this morning loaded with cases of water in the back headed north on 45. It really touches my heart when I see others reaching out in times like this. We never know when we could be the ones in need.
wolfy317 commented at 4/28/2011 11:22:00 PM:
I feel the need to comment.
I am an Oktibbeha county E911 dispatcher, and I feel the need to express my disgust at some of those in the Oktibbeha county area. I worked the morning,day, and evening of these horrendous storms. Amidst storm after storm, ravaging counties surrounding us, and wreaking havoc to our neighbors, what was Oktibbeha County's number one concern? "Why is my power out? When will the power be back on? I've paid my bill, why is my power out?". We received not ONE question about the well being of surrounding counties out of hundreds of calls. I can't even begin to express my disgust at behavior and complete ignorance that we were inundated with.