Over the last 24 1/2 years, I've driven I65 between Nashville and Birmingham an average of once a month. That is 300 trips in each direction. And the drive from my door to my parents' usually takes a little over 2 1/2 hours.
Today it took 4 1/2 hours.
You see, there were tornados in Alabama and throughout the south east yesterday. And while there was so much devastation in Tuscaloosa, there was quite a bit in the north central part of the state, in towns along I65.
The extent of the damage began to be apparent just south of Hanceville. Old trees had been snapped in two. Younger trees were completely uprooted. And beyond, homes were destroyed.
At the exit to highway 278 in Cullman, signs were uprooted, trees gone. And less than five miles off of the interstate, the downtown of Cullman law in pieces in the streets.
Traffic came to a screeching halt at the junction of I65 and I565 near Huntsville. For 90 minutes I read, played Sudoku on my phone, and chatted with my fellow travellers. And the traffic stayed heavy all the way home. People with no power were looking for gas, groceries, and generators and were willing to drive to Kentucky for it.
My immediate family is safe and sound, but so many others are not. Please keep the families of missing students at the University of Alabama, the injured, those who lost homes, and those who lost family in your prayers. When I woke this morning, there were 128 confirmed deaths in Alabama. At last count, there were over 190. In one state.
If you are out there, please consider contributing to local charities in these hard hit areas.