I know, I know. I’ve been MIA for the past few months. I’ve got the stereotypical excuse of, “I’ve been busy.” Lame.
But then something happened here where I live in Albany, Georgia. On January 2nd my family crouched in the hallway while our home and the homes surrounding us were completely obliterated by a tornado and straight line winds of 95 mph. I don’t really have the words to describe the sound. The closest thing I can compare it to was the sound of a huge train slamming on it’s brakes before it began tearing up homes. No one in our community was prepared for what we saw when the sun rose the next day. The landscape of our entire neighborhood had been forever altered. 100 year old pine trees were uprooted and thrown through houses and laying across yard and streets.
We were shell shocked to learn that it would be several months before we could get back into our home. For some of our neighbors, it was even worse. Their houses had to be completely gutted and it’ll be close to a year before they move back home. But in the midst of this tragedy, something beautiful happened. My faith in humanity was restored as I watched my community and town come together to help one another in a way that’s indescribable.
That community help continued through sub-zero temperatures while the majority of people had no electricity. My home still doesn’t have power, and won’t until electrical lines are repaired and rebuilt. Before the magnitude of our devastation could even register, we learned that there were 3 back-to-back severe storm systems that would be following the same path as before. So on January 22nd, we once again crouched in our safe room, terrified at what the news outlets were predicting. We heard the tornados tearing up the other side of town. An hour later, the pictures began to show up. The damage was so much more than the first round of storms on the 2nd. Then we started hearing about the casualties and the missing people. As of today, officials are still searching for a missing 2 year old boy who was separated from his mother during the storm.
We’ve begun the battle of getting FEMA to help us out. International Crisis Support Teams took one look at our damage and said it was the worst under-reported storm they’d ever seen. Dougherty County Commission Chairman, Chris Cohilas, has taken up the torch of responsibility and spear-headed the task of getting state and federal leaders to recognize our situation. He had this to say:
“This has been called by one of the national charities who have responded as the most under-reported disaster they have ever serviced. It is truly a travesty. News media draws resources and volunteers. We have received some great volunteers, but it is not enough. State resources have been provided (and we are very thankful) but they are inadequate to address our community’s needs. If you have the ability to influence media, and or share this information within your spheres of influence, I would ask that you do so. I serve as the County Commission Chair down here, and I have alot of people who are hurting. It is sad.
Our community has gone to social media and posted photos of the carnage. Those photos have been made publicly available. Search by the hashtags #HelpAlbany. Trust me…you will be blown away. Visit my page Chris Cohilas, Dougherty County Commission Chairman and view the damage and the people’s needs.
This disaster struck everyone, poor, rich, black, white, old, and young. It should be noted that we have some of the poorest people in the country that live here as well. The entire community is hurting. The needs are great and changing every day. If you can find a way to help, please do it. If you serve on a charity, please consider steering it our way. If you can steer media coverage down here, do it. If you are in a position to help, please do. We have an Emergency Management Agency which can help coordinate the delivery of those resources. Please call them at 229.483.6226, 6227, or 6228. They will receive your call and gladly coordinate your kindness.”