My Tornado Diary Ch2, May 5

Chapter 2: May 2011

May 5 

facebook update, 1:15 PM
solar xmas lights hung on porch, trash pickup came 2day (YAY!!!), gas lines being completely replaced today, but will not have gas for quite awhile, have mostly fully equipped house with (hopefully) all windows sealed and glass inside cleared out so i can take in some homeless pets. fortunately, some laundry is done, thanks so much to Mary Meares. because my laundry is really dirty at this point lol

The weekend before the tornado hit was Easter weekend. I remember this quite well, because I had the opportunity to fix one thing but 2 things were broken – my car, and my washing machine. My washing machine had been broken for a few weeks, and I really needed to do laundry, but I also needed a car repair. I decided a car repair was more important. You already saw what happened to my car. So maybe it was the wrong decision, but whatever. Sure a washer would not be much good with no power, but at least I would have had a chance to get caught up a little bit before the storm. I also probably wouldn’t have had that big pile of clothes on the floor under the window, that got covered with glass when the storm hit. I lost a lot of clothes that way, because…sure they might have been washable, but…who wants to be putting their shirt on first thing in the morning and get a shard of glass in their eye? And the shards of glass were…weird. Odd little slivers, not big chunks. And they became embedded in stuff.

Meanwhile, my laundry had been piling up and I was out of clean socks, and this was a problem. The friend I had stayed with for the first few nights said she would do a load or 2 of laundry for me, and boy howdy did she ever come through with that. And, when she brought them back to me clean, because she didn’t actually live in “the zone”, they stopped her at a checkpoint and insisted she have an escort. She said the guy was nice enough to carry my laundry for her, too! Now that’s service.

IMAG3026 mary Tanya Mikulas Tuscaloosa tornado 2011.jpg

The Red Cross had been coming around every day at some point, and they would drive real slow and call out over the intercom that they were offering free food, water, tarps, medical support, etc. They brought at least one hot meal a day. The beans and rice were pretty good, but I think my favorite was the chicken and dumplings. They were super-nice, and always smiling and ready to offer friendly words. They also offered pet supplies and always gave me extra helpings of meat when they saw I had a dog with me.

IMAG3084 hot lunch may 5 Tanya Mikulas Tuscaloosa tornado 2011

I noticed the new cracks in the walls from the tornado were getting worse, so I took some photos for my landlord.

There was a lot of utility work going on, and it was a good thing I was home for this. Also, I think there was a gas leak when the gas company was doing their work out by the corner. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I do remember there were some tense moments. Also, the trash workers really earned their paydays.

The Day My Advisor Visited

Once I made the decision to stay where I was, I dug in and stuck close to home. This was not an easy decision, but what else was I gonna do? With 3 large dogs and 4 cats and no car, my options were already limited. Not to mention, rental residences within walking distance to campus were suddenly very scarce, as you might imagine. Moving was gonna be a real problem. I had a place, sure it was half destroyed, but…it was only half destroyed. Looking back, if I knew then what I know now, I might have left Alabama altogether. Hindsight, right? But, had I done that, I would not have made the friends I have now, so who knows if it would have been better. It is what it is.

I invited my advisor over for a damage tour. The afternoon we had planned, he called me. He was frustrated, because he could not get to my house. Every single road was blocked by trackhoes, knuckle booms, giant trucks removing debris, insurance adjustors, land speculators, and general tourist traffic. He had been driving around the same area for nearly an hour, and there was absolutely no way to get through! And it was constantly changing, a road he had just driven was suddenly blocked, all the road signs and landmarks were gone or constantly shifting, and he was becoming increasingly irritated, and this was apparent in his voice. He was not going to make it, he had to get out and go home for the night. I completely understood, because trying to get to my house was, indeed, very frustrating. Sometimes, impossible. We made arrangements for him to visit the following day.

When he did finally arrive, and I gave him a tour of my house, he was clearly disappointed by the lack of a tree on my roof. Angry, even. Standing in the kitchen of my house, after I had spent days and days with no power, cleaning up glass, boarding up windows, tarping the front of the roof while the back was still leaking, unflipping my car, clearing my yard, repairing my fence, and hauling ruined stuff to the curb, this guy says to me, I thought there would be damage. Water service had been restored, but I still did not trust it for washing dishes (with good reason, in my opinion), still no power (except for the generator and the 100 foot extension cord across the road), and here’s this guy judging me because I have a stack of dirty dishes. Like he had already forgotten the previous day’s frustrations. I figured, OK, let’s walk around the block and we can see some damage, since that’s what you came for. I thought, maybe we will go see the board through the cinder block wall at the Parson’s house, maybe that will be interesting. It was not, and only made him angrier. He left. Angry. Like he wasted his time. Like I wasted his time.

We had another pretty nice sunset, and my solar fairy lights did their job. After dark, some military guys posed with my “looters will be shot” sign.


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Other Links:

Disaster Life home page

My Tornado Diary, Intro

My Tornado Diary Chapter 1

DrT phonetography home

About Tanya Mikulas, photographer

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