Of all the natural disasters we might confront, tornados rank among the scariest. They deliver the power of hurricanes and the destruction of tsunamis — with a warning of only minutes.
The April 27 tornados that ripped a scar across Alabama killed more than 350 people. Many who survived lost their homes, their belongings, their businesses.
Their stories — delivered so powerfully by Waste & Recycling News reporter Jim Johnson — show us that perhaps the only thing stronger than a tornado is the will of survivors to overcome it.
Tuscaloosa´s Environmental Services Department suffered an almost complete wipeout of buildings and equipment, yet the fleet maintenance staff cobbled together parts and had trucks up and running less than a week after the storms. (Garbage truck makers Heil and McNeilus also donated vehicles until the city can get its fleet back on the road.)
The harrowing stories of those who survived a direct hit — Tuscaloosa environmental services employees Shane Daugherty, Wade Zimmerman and Brannon Gardner, and Waste Management´s Jim Lovell — reveal the pure power of these indiscriminate storms, and the utter powerless of those in their path.
But as soon as the skies cleared, the power shifted.
The survivors went from being at the mercy of the sky to touching it with their resolve, their strength.
The rest of us are left to wonder one question: Could we, if placed in the same terrible situation, muster such might? And as we wonder, we hope à that we never have to find out the answer.
(May 16, 2011)