by Heather Milam, Senior Account Executive, Birmingham Apartment Finder
This past week has been significant for everyone in the U.S. We watched historical destruction by tornadoes that left hundreds of miles of devastation across the Deep South and we witnessed the death of one individual ultimately responsible for the largest amount of U.S. casualties on American soil. In preparing this blog post to inform readers of the recovery and response after the tornadoes last week, I reflect mainly on the relentless spirit of charity, love and compassion exhibited by so many people.
We read reports of gutless looters preying on tornado victims or price gauging by spineless business owners, but that type of behavior is an outlier. Overwhelmingly, people, old and young, white and black, religious and non religious, hold hands and triumph together in times of devastation and need. We’re not a nation of ridicule or apathy; rather, we’re a population of diversity that reaches out to one another in times of need.
Instead of picturing plunderers, think of Emily, a young girl in Birmingham who took the time to write an inspiring quote on the box she and her family donated to victims – I am praying for the ill and homeless people… here is the day to donate. Or consider the Greater Birmingham Apartment Association’s efforts with over 100 properties accepting donations and many offering special housing for homeless Alabama residents.
In Jefferson County, home to Alabama’s most populated city, Birmingham, 5700 structures were damaged or destroyed, and 4800 of those were private residences, according to the Jefferson County EMA. Over 15,000 people are displaced and 20 people lost their lives.
The news is heartrending, but rather than focus only on the sadness, which is often inevitable in times of such great loss of life, I try to focus on the unwavering ability of the human spirit as it triumphs in spite of devastation. We’ve seen monumental structures collapse like match sticks in NYC on 9/11 and most recently we see entire municipalities and cities leveled by erratic forces of nature. Yet, through all tragedy, we overcome. Non profit associations give time, money and donations. We watch unfaltering clean up efforts by volunteers. We show tears, as we pick up another piece of trash and move forward. We even extend patience as justice and closure is delayed for many years.
So let’s think of Emily, a small girl who reminds us of who we, as Americans, truly are. We are a country of kindness, goodwill and hope. We can laugh and we can cry, we lose loved ones and celebrate when someone is found. Enormous appreciation extends from Alabama for the limitless prayers, thoughts and concerns. Know that the outpouring of help hasn’t waned as donations and volunteers continue to help with recovery efforts. Thank you so much.