Today, I did something that I never envisioned myself doing. I joined with 6 other teachers and with class rolls in hand, we went into the neighborhoods decimated by Wednesday's tornadoes looking for our students. We weren't sure what we would find, but we loaded up a couple of trucks with supplies from the National Guard, FEMA, and the Red Cross and entered these areas.
Immediately, there is a sense of shock and disbelief that what you are seeing is real, even if you have been seeing it on the news 24 hours a day. Tears came to our eyes and we tried to imagine the sheer terror that our students had to have been through when these earth shattering winds whipped through their little neighborhoods destroying everything that had in their lives. (thankfully no casualties have been reported in Fultondale)
As we slowly creeped through these neighborhoods, we handed out supplies and listened to their stories; many of which seemed like something out of a blockbuster movie. That's what they seemed to need more than anything: a listening ear, a compassionate heart, a smile, a hug. Landlines, cell phones, water, power were all non-existent in many of these places so they had no one to share their stories with.
I wish I could report that we found our students. Neighbors couldn't always tell us where they had relocated so that we could contact them to make sure they were okay; that they had what they needed to make it through the next few days.
Tomorrow, school will resume. How many students will return will be anyone's guess. What will our first day back be like? I have no idea. But I can tell you, none of us who weren't directly affected by the damage have anything to complain about. We are all blessed.
I would ask that all of you please keep all of our Fultondale students and their families in your thoughts and prayers. This is going to be a long road to recovery.