Bill Hudgins Update (Monday morning): On Friday afternoon, a series of tornados slammed through Middle Tennessee. Hammock Publishing senior editor Bill Hudgins (who comments on this blog often as “Hudge”) and I were watching an office TV together as the station’s radar was showing a street-by-street path of one of the most severe “super cells” (the storm cells that spawn tornados) passed over what looked to be his address in Gallatin. The typically thin route of a tornado leaves a narrow but devastating swath in the wake of its random route. Bill and Wilda, his wife, missed the tornado by about 1,000 yards, but his neighbors weren’t as lucky. He’s spent the weekend doing what Bill and Wilda always do: reaching out to help the community they love in any way they can. They were able to attend a wedding in the midst of the tornado’s aftermath — yesterday’s post recounts it. I told Bill to send me any of his thoughts or updates and I would post them here.
Here is a note from him this morning:
Power came back on Saturday morning early, and cable last night so we can see what people are saying about the storm. We spent Saturday getting our friends’ daughter married and Sunday helping those friends pack their ravaged home, which shifted on its foundation and will need to be razed and rebuilt. This was in the heart of the damage, the subdivision they kept showing on the news. Another friend lives across the street and their house while also standing also shifted and maybe rebuilt. Others weren’t even that lucky – one couple’s home had lots of windows and all of those are gone. No basement, lucky they were not home. Then there are the places where all that’s left is some of the foundation. We’ve offered the basement apartment in our house to whoever needs it.
Working in the house gave you a feeling of its being just a big moving party, except for the shards of glass and shattered wood and leaves and dirt and clouds of insulation dust. Stepping outside is a shock – like you forgot about why this is going on, because your mind can focus only on one small piece of disaster at a time. Let me just say that no disaster movie I have ever seen, nor any news coverage, comes close to the real thing. Rex and (the 15-year-old) can probably attest to this having seen Katrina’s aftermath even 6 months later.
At times, we are all just overwhelmed and sad. Then something funny happens – they put a box of our friends’ liquor supplies on my truck and were teasing me about not taking off with it. I looked at it and started to sing “These are a few of my favorite things” – it just popped out – and we were suddenly all laughing. Then we loaded a framed set of photos of the kids, the glass was cracked and some pieces missing but the photos were ok. It went like that all day.
Wilda and I have agreed we can’t say we are blessed to have been out of the path – that would imply those others were not blessed in some fashion, or maybe even punished. We were very lucky – some random combination of geography and meteorology pushed its path south of us. I found big piece of corrugated metal and rubberized roofing behind our house, plus shingles and other debris. So it was pretty close. I learned yesterday that homes in the older subdiv that borders our place were hit – not much publicity on those. I sometimes walk back there, but haven’t had a chance to go yet.
The national guard is here as well as lots of state troopers and other security folks. There was a bit of looting – a liquor store got slammed – but supposedly that’s stopped. Everyone has to have a “pass” – basically a square of orange paper with a number on it – to get into the zone. A week of nice weather will help dry things out and give people a chance to get salvageable homes tarped and covered up, or to remove belongings and find new places to live.
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