Amazingly, my house is fine, my mom's house is fine, but the mile or so between them is in utter devastation - the F5 went right between them. We have no power, of course, so I may not be posting much in the next few weeks (I am at work now, which I really try to avoid posting here - but it IS my lunch break...).
There are loads of stuff on the internet about it (google 'pleasant grove alabama tornado') - but here is just one video link I ran across - this church (First Assembly of God) is right across the street from mine (First Baptist) - in fact, the video shows FB at the one-minute mark - it was relatively unharmed, other than losing the steeple and a few holes in the roof.
It came through about 5-5:30 on Wednesday night... we all got in the low floor of my house, and waited it out. We heard the 'chug-a-lug' sound everybody always tells you about, all too clear - although it was like 'that's not REALLY a tornado, is it?'
It passed through, and about 10 minutes later, we went outside to see if any trees were down anywhere... nope - my little 'cul-de-sac' area was fine, sans power...but I noticed there was about a four-foot piece of wood with a few nails in it near my doorstep...I wondered, "now where did THAT come from?"
A few minutes later, when we were talking to neighbors, one of their teenagers came down the street yelling "It's all gone! Everything's destroyed!"...yeah, right. My thought was, "If our street is ok, everybody else is ok, right?" not quite...not at all.
We started walking over towards the center of town, which is over a few 'ridges and valleys'...and just a block over, some big trees were down.
Another block, some roof coverings peeled off, a few walls broken on houses, bigger trees felled...
The third block, no roofs, no trees... and at the end of that block, up a hill, is where Assembly of God sits (in the video). Once we got over the top of the hill... it was indeed mass and utter destruction...houses were completely obliterated, for a width of roughly one mile. You could see clear across town, for blocks, where trees used to be everywhere.
We kept on walking towards my old neighborhood, which was in dead center of the path of this thing...where we lived in a little'starter' house back seven years ago... on the way down the street, where you make the 'last turn' onto the street my old house was on, I honestly did NOT know where I was...got totally disoriented...no landmarks to reference...but we got our bearings somehow and trudged on.
We got to my old house, and the two walls that made the corner of our bedroom were all that were left... THAT'S an eerie, sick feeling, y'all...in some way, I would have preferred to have seen it totaly flattened - not sure why, tho...I DO know the folks that bought our old house only stayed in it a day or two a week (his wife had kids around the corner, and she went to see them every now and then...) - a very rich fellow with multiple houses - so hopefully they weren't there Wednesday.
We climbed over and through trees, in the relative dark - although it's pretty weird how 'light' it was at 9:00 or so, with no power for miles around - we jumped a hundred power lines (ALL were very dead, BTW), and got hit by another 'squall line' of rain blowing through, which just added to the overwhelming feeling of despair.
We went on around the area (although we probably shouldn't have, we just were checking to see if there was anything we could do...and yes, to see the impossible scene with our own eyes...) and finally heading back home, I was wondering if my current house would still be there, even though I left it fine just a few hours before... it was, praise the Lord, along with my family... just incredible that we came out so untouched, while the bulk of the city is gone.
Again, please keep this area in your thoughts and prayers... Huey's crew is fine, but we need to figure out how to help folks out...we are in a unique position to be able to have a 'home base' and walk over 4-5 blocks to help with recovery efforts...so that is our calling at this point.
AND, thanks to all of you who support G-ology...y'all are the BEST!