Tornadoes devastate southeastern U.S.
April 29, 2011 6:18 PM   Subscribe

A wave of powerful storm cells swept the southeastern United States this week, spawning hundreds of tornadoes that wreaked havoc from Texas to Virginia. While damage was widespread throughout the region, the most terrible toll was seen in Alabama, which has accounted for two-thirds of the more than 300 reported deaths -- the deadliest since the Great Depression -- and where many small towns were simply wiped from the map. Especially hard-hit was the university town of Tuscaloosa, the state's fifth-largest, where a monstrous F5 tornado (seen in this terrifying firsthand video) tore a vicious track through entire neighborhoods and business districts -- narrowly missing the region's primary hospital -- and continuing a path that rained debris as far as Birmingham, over sixty miles away. The disaster prompted a visit from President Obama today, who declared "I've never seen devastation like this" after surveying the area with Governor Robert Bentley, Senator Richard Shelby, and Mayor Walter Maddox. More: photos from In Focus and The Big Picture, aerial footage of the aftermath, "before and after" sliders, the path of the Tuscaloosa twister on Google Maps, People Locator, local aid information, MetaTalk check-in thread
posted by Rhaomi (102 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Some of those photos on Big Picture are like unbelievable. What a mess.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 6:23 PM on April 29, 2011


That can't be blood, can it?
posted by codacorolla at 6:26 PM on April 29, 2011


That can't be blood, can it?

It's more likely transmission fluid.
posted by sysinfo at 6:30 PM on April 29, 2011


It's more likely transmission fluid.

That is also what I am choosing to believe.
posted by gjc at 6:32 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've lived through these things and nothing is as terrifying.
I say that as someone who has been chased through the streets by crazy people on drugs shooting guns at me. Nothing scares like a tornado.

The Red Cross is throwing assistance at this like crazy. I set up a monthly donation with them two days ago. In Seattle they have folks on the street you can grab and they'll set you up. Took all of ten minutes.
posted by artof.mulata at 6:39 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is so striking is that your run-of-the mill tornado maybe tears some roofs off, maybe you get pictures of a neighborhood where a line of houses are torn apart. You see a twisting line of trees or corn stalks that have been blown over in more or less orderly fashion.

This, however, is an order of magnitude worse. This is just civilization being put in a blender. Horrifying.
posted by gjc at 6:39 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, was anyone else shocked when you realized the person filming in the "firsthand video" was in a CAR, not in a building?. I was thinking for the entire first minute that I hoped they knew where their area of refuge was...then they started driving around the parking lot and my mind was blown.
posted by victoriab at 6:40 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Red Cross is throwing assistance at this like crazy.

Very important, and very important that it keeps up. The South is really, strikingly poorer than the rest of the nation. Many of these people are going to need a LOT more than a few bucks to tide them over until the insurance kicks in.
posted by gjc at 6:43 PM on April 29, 2011


The car video was difficult to watch because it kept jumping all over the place. One thing that struck me was the total lack of warning sirens; here, they test them every Wednesday at noon, and Columbus is not known for tornadoes.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:46 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Old'n'Busted, we have sirens here in town they test weekly, and they were going off like crazy in the time before the tornado hit. It's possible the one near there got destroyed -- I saw one on a metal pole the other day tilted almost parallel to the ground.

I'm more surprised the guy didn't get killed by flying debris. There's an F5 tornado within walking distance of you, and you roll down the car window? WTF.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:53 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


The lady in the center of this photo... flanked by a man holding his boots and a woman with a bloodied "sweet home alabama" t-shirt... her gaze gives me some sort of feeling. I can't quite articulate it, however, as it's some mixture of hope and despair at seeing what I think is a determined confrontation with trauma and devastation. I could be reading too much into it.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:54 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have colleagues that will be in Tuscaloosa on Sunday. Our best information is still scattered regarding power, potable water and housing. There appear to me mass care facilities started. I am unsure of the SAR operations duration but it is pretty sure that there is more to do. At this point, it seems that potable water, hand-held non-cook meals, personal hygene items are needed straight away. Dollars to support organizations that will be in the trenches go a long way...please consider dollar donations first if you are considering a donation.

I will try to jump in the thread if I get to hop on any state EOC calls.

Hug 'em if you got 'em folks. Send some love to the folks who are hurting down south.
posted by zerobyproxy at 6:57 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Terrifying. We got some of the leftovers of this system here in Florida. I thought we might have been overreacting just a bit when we spent the morning huddled in the bathroom waiting for the tornado warnings to end, since in the end, we were spared the worst of it, but the storm season seems to be getting scarier and scarier these days, and it seems obvious now you can never be too careful. What a tragedy all around.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:58 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in Georgia, in an area that wasn't hit this time, but often has tornadoes. We have sirens, but having lived in several other towns in the state, I can say that they don't seem to be that common. Ours responds to such a large area, though, that it can be difficult to know exactly what's going on if you don't also have the weather radio on.
posted by bizzyb at 7:03 PM on April 29, 2011


What amazes me is that I read about this on MetaTalk while the news went on and on about the wedding in England. I am not the news hound I would like to be, but seriously, there was very little coverage about this. What the hell is wrong with this picture?
posted by jenlovesponies at 7:05 PM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Judging from the aftermath when we had our tornado several weeks ago the immediate need will be bottled water and food plus some kind of shelter. After that there were local food and clothing drives (plus cash donations) taken. But the difference is that in comparison, altho it was bad here, this set of storms was exponentially worse as far as amount of devastated area.


Please do give but not just to the Red Cross... We have had the Baptist Men's Association and also Samaritan's purse down here (the latter trying to hurry up and get done here so they can get to the other affected areas.) But no matter who you are comfortable dealing with, please do give. Again, in our area local churches coordinated with community leaders in order to get things done as organized and as quickly as possible.

One other thing. This is longterm. Really longterm. These affected areas will need a lot of help for a long time, and the people are going to need not just physical help but help processing what has happened to them and to their community.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:08 PM on April 29, 2011


See if you can spot the difference between these two photos of Bush and Obama. Via
posted by nushustu at 7:09 PM on April 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Nushustu, Obama didn't come to Fayetteville when that tornado tore up Fayetteville AND Fort Bragg (and you didn't hear about that latter part, but it did) but I don't fault him for it. Let the politicians stay out of the way and do their part while not getting in the way of the boots on the ground responders.

In other words this is not a time for partisan politics.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:14 PM on April 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Will any of the Congressional representatives for any of the states affected be changing their positions on federal government funding and taxes and anything? Or will they still be trying to starve the beast while their state reaps the benefits of funding they want to cut off from being collected in the first place?
posted by hippybear at 7:17 PM on April 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Respectfully, I don't think I can stomach giving money to Franklin Graham's charity (Samaritan's Purse), even though it does some good work. Fortunately, the Red Cross will be happy to take my donation and I don't have to concern myself with supporting an organization run by a guy who meddles in the political arena in such an offensive way.

At any rate, my heart goes out to everyone in Alabama or with friends and relatives there that are affected by this.
posted by darkstar at 7:18 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


her gaze gives me some sort of feeling. I can't quite articulate it, however, as it's some mixture of hope and despair at seeing what I think is a determined confrontation with trauma and devastation. I could be reading too much into it.

That, friend, is what a steel magnolia looks like in real life.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:25 PM on April 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


The Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant was placed in a a Cold Shutdown state due to power transmissions issues.

The plant's emergency systems performed this operation automatically.

It will take the TVA quite some time to spool it back up... and restore transmission lines throughout the devastated area.

This year is being brutal to us...
posted by PROD_TPSL at 7:45 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've partied fairly hard in Tuscaloosa. It doesn't deserve this.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:26 PM on April 29, 2011


I was lucky enough to drive through and briefly visit a good chunk of the South in early March of this year, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham included (thankfully). I absolutely, completely loved both of those cities, especially Birmingham. You come around this curve heading north on I-65 (I *think* that's what it was), and it's twilight, and all of a sudden there's this classical city-on-a-hill loveliness directly to your right. It makes me ill to think of the people we met and the beauty of that part of the US being hit so hard with something that they couldn't control or foresee, and that destroyed so much so fast.

Southern MeFites, I'm terribly sorry and I hope that you get the help, blessings and strength that you need to come back from this.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 8:27 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Red Cross is throwing assistance at this like crazy.

Very important, and very important that it keeps up. The South is really, strikingly poorer than the rest of the nation. Many of these people are going to need a LOT more than a few bucks to tide them over until the insurance kicks in.


Nthing this. I'm a Washington State resident, but a Rainsville native (and alum of the University of Alabama, to boot). My parents (thankfully unscathed in both hide and home) still live in Rainsville. We're as adjusted to tornadoes as you can be down there (we get at least one funnel cloud in the area usually every year; one took out most of the businesses on Main Street ten, maybe eleven years ago) and, while the damage is always disturbing, it's something locals look at with a stiff upper lip.

Not this. My parents are shell-shocked. All I managed to accomplish at work was crying in my office as the pictures started trickling in to Facebook and the rest of the web. But read and see for yourselves. People in DeKalb County (and other areas serviced by Farmers Electrical Coooperative) may be without power for two to three weeks. I was originally flying home next week for my high school reunion. Now, I'm flying back for a work party to help out a cousin and four classmates (out of a class of sixty) and their families who're suddenly homeless. And there is a Rainsville (a Pratt City, a Harvest, on and on) in nearly every country in the state's northern half.

It's frustrating because it feels so difficult to express why things are different this time. Just take it second-hand from people that are there. It's bad. Bad in a way no one has ever seen before. These are people that usually don't ask for help, even though it's a place where it was hard to make a living at times even before the national economy tanked. They need help this time. They're asking for it. They don't have nearly the emergency resources in place (or at all) that some of the more urban areas do. Please, give if you can (it's my understanding that the Red Cross is prioritizing assistance to areas by need).

There's also footage of the tornado forming and touching down in Rainsville. And a photo of the thing from Ft. Payne (about six miles away) after it spooled up to full (?) size.

(Also, the tornado completely destroyed a bank in Rainsville. Usually, the bank vault survives and isn't flung too far away. This vault is missing. Just gone. People are obviously looking for it—or its contents).
posted by onebadparadigm at 8:41 PM on April 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


Rhaomi: "President Obama today, who declared "I've never seen devastation like this""

Huh, funny that, because I just watched some footage of this really horrible Tsunami that rolled across Japan...
posted by symbioid at 8:43 PM on April 29, 2011


That's not to diminish the very real suffering going on here, btw. Sorry that my snark got the best of me :/
posted by symbioid at 8:45 PM on April 29, 2011


Tornados are such heinous forces of nature that when one strikes where you live, you never forget it.
posted by bwg at 8:45 PM on April 29, 2011


I think he meant in person, symbioid.
posted by merelyglib at 8:48 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this post, another university of alabama alum watching and feeling awful for friends that have lost far too much.

And I swear the first person I hear crack a football/redneck/racist
joke I'll hunt down and b1tch slap.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:59 PM on April 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


Much respect for this dad. (Note to self: Build that fucking safe room you've been thinking about.)
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 9:13 PM on April 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is pretty crazy. I love to storm chase, but the devastation here is terrible.
posted by novenator at 9:31 PM on April 29, 2011


Growing up in the South I used to hear stories about hunks of metal wrapped around trees, houses tossed hundreds of feet, and 2x4s driven through trees, but I never saw it before.

Note the people in the comments below saying "that's what you should expect if you live in a tornado zone and you build your house out of wood." Probably the same douchebags who said "that's what you get if you live in a place that's below sea level" after Katrina. Hopefully they'll never know disaster, but hopefully they'll also know compassion at some point.

Yes, much props to the guy in picture #17. Seeing all the cinder block rubble from othr buildings makes me wonder just exactly what that room was reinforced with.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 9:34 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've read plenty about this, but only because I live in Mississippi. A town a few counties away called Smithville has been practically leveled by one of these tornadoes. I read some realtime Facebook updates about the aftermath. Many said that bodies were everywhere, every building was ripped apart, and many people were missing. Homeland Security and Mississippi's National Guard, along with the Red Cross, are all assisting with search and rescue.
posted by cp311 at 9:39 PM on April 29, 2011


Please do give but not just to the Red Cross... We have had the Baptist Men's Association and also Samaritan's purse down here (the latter trying to hurry up and get done here so they can get to the other affected areas.)

If you are able to give, please make sure the organization you are pledging money to is in line with your personal beliefs. Samaritan's Purse is an evangelical organization led by notorious birther, Islamaphobe, and generally crazy person Franklin Graham.
posted by lalex at 9:40 PM on April 29, 2011 [12 favorites]


FWIW, I've seen pictures of brick houses and buildings torn apart, too.

On a more positive note, my boyfriend has a friend in Smithville. Let's call him John. John was standing in the middle of Piggly Wiggly when he heard that a tornado was coming. He did the first thing he could think to do and ran to the back, to the meat locker. All of the store's employees followed suit, throwing all the meat out so there would be room for everyone. The tornado passed, and everyone in the meat locker made it out okay.
posted by cp311 at 9:45 PM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yes, much props to the guy in picture #17. Seeing all the cinder block rubble from othr buildings makes me wonder just exactly what that room was reinforced with.

I assume the broken cinder blocks were just stacked with mortar joints and the safe room cinder blocks are filled with steel reinforced concrete. I'll sure as hell be trying to find out for sure, though.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 9:59 PM on April 29, 2011


Unimaginable devastation. I live in TN and parts of it were hard hit as well. So were many other states. Give what you can. These people need as much help as they can get.
posted by blucevalo at 10:01 PM on April 29, 2011


Honest, non-trolling question: are these crazy storm cells and twisters related to climate change? I just don't remember hearing of tornadoes in that part of the US before. My mom lives in southern Ohio and they're experiencing bizarre weather this spring, too. Yes, weather does not equal climate, vice versa, but I can't help but wonder.

Re: worthy charities... Check out Direct Relief International.
posted by wowbobwow at 10:15 PM on April 29, 2011


Just another plug for Direct Relief. This is taken from their presser on tornado response.

To help people across the southeastern U.S. who have lost their homes or been injured in tornadoes and other severe weather, Direct Relief USA is delivering specifically requested medical aid to clinics and shelters throughout the south.

Direct Relief is the only nonprofit organization licensed to distribute prescription medications in all 50 states and maintains an ongoing support program with more than 1,000 nonprofit clinics and health centers across the country, including 168 facilities in the six states affected by recent tornados.

In the past week, Direct Relief USA completed a distribution of medical aid this month through its nationwide Safety Net Support program, delivering more than $756,000 in medical material to 39 health facilities in Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

In addition, emergency shipments have been provided to facilities in North Carolina and Arkansas following tornados that struck in the past two weeks.

posted by wowbobwow at 10:18 PM on April 29, 2011




wowbobwow: I just don't remember hearing of tornadoes in that part of the US before.

Tornadoes are common in that part of the US, aka Dixie Alley. See also: 1932, Palm Sunday 1994 (the storm cell that also took out Rainsville last time), and 1998.
posted by onebadparadigm at 10:48 PM on April 29, 2011


Gah, I forgot to add that, even though a few commonly roll through the region each year, the (unofficial, freakish) number of 151 tornadoes might have broken the single-day record of 148 in 1974. Meanwhile, the approximately 600 tornadoes this April shattered the previous record of 267 in April 1974; meteorologists, experts, and sciencey talking heads continue to debate the causes.
posted by onebadparadigm at 11:20 PM on April 29, 2011


My mom lives in southern Ohio and they're experiencing bizarre weather this spring, too.

I used to live there (Jeffersonville), in 1999-2001. Trust me, there were tornadoes there then too. I never saw one personally, but I saw the Xenia, OH Wal-Mart the next day (it was rubble), and I used to get weirded out by the storms they had there. I'm from the northern hills, I guess, and a Great Plains storm is always a scary thing to someone who isn't really familiar with it.

I remember, it would be the most beautiful sunny day ever and right around 2:00 pm everyone just knew there was a bad storm coming. No clouds gathering, no temperature change, it was just a vibe that I eventually picked up from the locals and...got, I guess. Those storms were something else entirely, and I never even SAW a tornado. It was just unearthly, to me, that storms could be that violent.

How bizarre is it there now? In what sense? I don't mean to grill you, it's just that it always was bizarre to me and I would be curious as to how it's *supposed* to be versus what it actually is?
posted by deep thought sunstar at 12:35 AM on April 30, 2011


Unbelievable. Absolutely no news coverage here (France).
posted by nicolin at 1:50 AM on April 30, 2011


Rhaomi: "There's an F5 tornado within walking distance of you, and you roll down the car window? "

The window will not protect you from flying debris. It could, however, become flying debris. Flying debris highly likely to blind you, actually.

That said, if you (or anyone else reading this) ever find themselves in that situation, they should either move to more substantial cover if it's available or immediately drive at a right angle to the path of the tornado. Immediately and quickly.

If it becomes clear that you can't get out of the path of the tornado, a ditch is quite seriously better than your car. A ditch is also better than a mobile home, if you ever have to make that choice.
posted by wierdo at 2:39 AM on April 30, 2011


Honest, non-trolling question: are these crazy storm cells and twisters related to climate change? I just don't remember hearing of tornadoes in that part of the US before. My mom lives in southern Ohio and they're experiencing bizarre weather this spring, too. Yes, weather does not equal climate, vice versa, but I can't help but wonder.

It is certainly part of it, but we really don't know how.

Those kinds of massive storm blobs are fairly common in that area of the country, because the hot, moist tropical air building North for the summer crashes into the cold, dry winter air from the North. It is just that these city destroying F5 tornados are very uncommon, and thus very unlikely to hit inhabited areas. The destruction is particularly bad in inhabited areas because all our stuff becomes an abrasive when being flung at 200 mph.

If it becomes clear that you can't get out of the path of the tornado, a ditch is quite seriously better than your car. A ditch is also better than a mobile home, if you ever have to make that choice.

The thing about cars is that the wind can get under them and flop them around pretty easily. Most cars become surprisingly effective wings when the wind hits them at a diagonal from the rear. It was a particularly scary problem in NASCAR- a car would lose control, run onto the grass and would slowly rotate on the ground as it ran out of momentum. Then it would hit that magic diagonal against the wind and almost literally "pop" off the ground.

So yes, get in a ditch, away from the car, as flat as you can manage so the wind doesn't get under you. Nothing beats being surrounded by a mound of dirt.
posted by gjc at 5:27 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]




And, of course, the GOP tried to cut more than a billion dollars from NOAA funding just last month.

This is the new weather, folks. We'll see more of this before we see less. (We've been hit by tornadoes in SE Virginia for the last three years).
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:08 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


. . . and also Samaritan's purse down here

Yeah, I think the guy who keeps asserting that President Obama might be a secret Moooooslim double agent born in Kenya can fuck right off in this situation.

Hey, here was Franklin Graham's view of Hurricane Katrina:

"There's been Satanic worship in New Orleans. There's been sexual perversion. God is going to use that storm to bring a revival. God has a plan. God has a purpose."


What did the people of Tuscaloosa do to deserve this, Reverend?
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:20 AM on April 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Not to mention Graham fils recent near-endorsement of Donald Trump and near-assertion that President Obama is not a Christian.

How about he sells a private jet or two and a home or two to chip in to cover the damages?
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:23 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other words this is not a time for partisan politics.

But you're still going to get in a disingenuous dig at President Obama for not visiting Fayetteville after a storm that killed perhaps 20 people, compared to well over 300 in this storm. And then a plug for the "charity" of someone who is making a career out of impugning the President's legitimacy, faith, and honesty.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:26 AM on April 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


You know, I used to be on this British listserv a few years ago, and when Katrina hit, someone sitting pretty across the pond found it a good opportunity to get in a dig at Bush, something like 2 days after I'd discovered that thankfully my parents were still alive, but that their house, all of our family's possessions, you know, several generations and lifetimes of personal history, not to mention the cat, were all vaporized by tornadic offshoots of the storm, and I just about lost my shit. Exploiting other people's profound loss and misery for scoring your petty political points is just so crass and offensive, that seeing this Bush/Obama derail here turns my stomach. For shame, all of you.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 6:59 AM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Will any of the Congressional representatives for any of the states affected be changing their positions on federal government funding and taxes and anything? Or will they still be trying to starve the beast while their state reaps the benefits of funding they want to cut off from being collected in the first place?
posted by hippybear at 10:17 PM


I hate to say that this was my first thought when I read about the damage. They are all going to run to the Federal Gov. for help. Also, Texas Governor Rick Perry on Thursday sharply criticized the Obama administration's response to the Texas wildfires compared to other disasters. Didn't he suggest that Texas secede from the Union? The hypocrisy, it burns.

Do I believe that they deserve assistance? YES. We all do.
posted by futz at 7:03 AM on April 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yes, we're so petty here on MeFi, turning this discussion of a disaster that has deeply affected all of us personally into a discussion of politics yet again. So what about the Washington Post, whose headline at the top of Page 1 today is "Southern Storms a Test for President Obama" . . . .how DARE they!!!!!
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:14 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


And one last point: do you believe criticism of Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina was unwarranted, Hal Mumkin? Because I believe Bush's actions in the wake of that storm cost many lives that didn't need to be lost.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:18 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Exploiting other people's profound loss and misery for scoring your petty political points is just so crass and offensive.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 7:23 AM on April 30, 2011


Also, looking back through the thread again, I am surprised to discover that the comment immediately above mine, which comment my comment was actually supporting (in that someone was "going to get in a disingenuous dig at President Obama" just as much as someone got in a totally irrelevant dig at Bush) was by you. Huh.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 7:26 AM on April 30, 2011


Exploiting other people's profound loss and misery for scoring your petty political points is just so crass and offensive, that seeing this Bush/Obama derail here turns my stomach.

I was also a Katrina escapee, and lost almost everything I owned as a result. Bush's reaction to Katrina is what turned my stomach, and we have to be able to criticize our leaders when they fail us. It's not partisan if it's a just criticism.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:37 AM on April 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


The offending comments came hours after [Alabama's current governor] Bentley was sworn in as governor, when he told a Montgomery Baptist church audience, quote, "Anybody who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister."

Mumkin, no one here is "exploiting" anything. And my points aren't petty. Nothing anyone writes here is going to make anything easier for the victims of the tornadoes, nor any worse.

I'm not at all opposed to making this a political discussion. Alabama is one of many southern states where an apparent majority of the citizens appear to disdain the idea that the federal government has any right to intervene in state affairs, where a veritable movement to delegitimize our president has majority support, where the governor of the state declares non-Christians less than full humans in public, etc. So when someone comes along using this as yet another occasion to knock the President -- when he's down there on the ground and authorizing federal help -- damn right I'l respond.

You seem to have Metafilter confused with a first-responder forum. If it's so all out important to you, what are you doing wasting time here babbling when you could be out helping people?
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:37 AM on April 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


And my point in re Alia's post was not that we *shouldn't* politicize this topic (everyone everywhere is doing so, look at all the front pages of the major papers today), but that she was being disingenuous in asking us *not* to do so while doing so herself in stating the premises of her point.

Reading comprehension: you hasn't got it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:43 AM on April 30, 2011


Exploiting other people's profound loss and misery for scoring your petty political points is just so crass and offensive.

Totally agree. Fortunately, I don't see anyone doing that in this thread, really. I DO see some people making the very real and direct connection between government response to a tragedy and the need for people in that tragedy to receive immediate assistance. Seems pretty reasonable, really.

If one hires people who hate government and want to "drown it in a bathtub" to run government, if one staffs emergency response agencies with incompetent political cronies, if one works to defund NOAA and FEMA and so forth, if one works to delegitimize the role of the federal government in even getting involved in state issues, it's really not inappropriate for other folks to note the politics and how it is affecting the people in the middle of a tragedy.

And for that matter, neither is it petty nor exploitative to observe that folks like Franklin Graham may well steward organizations that do good, but then they turn around and use the moral authority that has earned them to then engage in ways that actually hurt people.

Politics is about people's lives. It's not just some fun, distracting game we play over coffee. It's a moral imperative to contribute what one can and then to speak out about any criticisms of the way the government is handling itself or has handled itself in the past in similar circumstances.
posted by darkstar at 7:46 AM on April 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


Also the Salvation Army is doing tornado relief work.


I mentioned Samaritan's Purse because they have been boots on the ground here where the Fayetteville tornado relief is going on. I don't give a rat's behind what Franklin Graham is saying or not saying, I just know who has been here in our area helping.

Can we take any political derail to Metatalk since obviously some would like to discuss it? Those of us who have been affected or live in places affected by April's storms -both this latest outbreak and the one right before it have more immediate concerns.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:23 AM on April 30, 2011


Exploiting other people's profound loss and misery for scoring your petty political points is just so crass and offensive.

I don't see anything exploitative here. Some people here believe that the federal government has a very definite (and desirable) role to play here. Large scale emergency response is a public good. Lessening of large scale emergencies through relatively inexpensive means such as NOAA and FEMA are a public good. Looking out for each other, regardless of ideology, is a public good.

There is plenty of hypocrisy here, however. Killing federal government in the name of "states-rights" and then complaining about the federal response to your particular emergency is not excusable on any level.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:24 AM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yes, I too think the political dimension of this is very interesting. I don't know how far along the districts are with redistricting from the 2010 census, but the devastation from the tornado changes things in ways that will change the country, politically.

People who feel extremely emotional and passionate about this disaster should go here to help. Recontextualizing disasters into intellectual political discussion is one way to deal with the traumas.
posted by fuq at 8:34 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


St. Alia, I have family in central Alabama, too. I'm not less interested in the "immediate concerns" than you are, just because I happen to disagree with you on a couple of points. I just also happen to be interested in the political dimension and context of this.

On preview, what fuq said, too.
posted by darkstar at 8:38 AM on April 30, 2011


St. Alia:

Please believe our thoughts are with you. Two weeks ago, the area I live in was pounded by 60+ tornadoes that killed 15 people and tore property up pretty good. Three days ago we were surrounded by tornadoes again. It's a horrible thing that no one should have to face, especially alone.

Just because some of us seek political solutions for problems like this doesn't mean we aren't connected to the human side of this.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:50 AM on April 30, 2011


I pretty much keep BBC World running in the background whenever I'm alone at home and whenever, err, there's not much noise in my mid-town den, which basically meant that I kept running the channel all yesterday night and today morning. All that they've been talking about is unrest in North Africa and the Levantine, and the saccharine-sweet breathless reporting on odd hats that ladies wore in central London; no mention of Alabama anywhere, not even on their main news site.

But yes, the world has come to a standstill because of events in Westminister Abbey, so there's that.
posted by the cydonian at 8:50 AM on April 30, 2011


Not all political discussion of tornado relief is derail....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:55 AM on April 30, 2011


I don't object to a political dimension to discussions of disasters like these or calling our leaders to task for their failures to respond in a helpful and meaningful way. That said, the president is not a first responder either, and so I never quite understood the kerfuffle about who did or didn't visit what disaster site and when, because he and his entourage create more of a distraction than help on the ground. What I am objecting to is this smug, pointless sniping trying to score the fastest and cleverest dig at your perceived opponent, on the backs of the people who have suffered a trauma, which characterizes so much of what is supposed to pass for "discourse" these days. Astro Zombie, at least, is making a case for his position, but I think fourcheesemac's rabid, reflexive defensiveness (and irrelevant ad hominems) can stand without comment from me to illustrate my point, which I continue to stand by, that this petty partisan gunning on an anonymous internet message board is offensive and exploitative.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 8:59 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would argue the derail is discussing whether or not politics belongs in this thread, and whether what's been discussed is appropriate or partisan sniping. If that's to be a discussion, perhaps that's what should go to MeTa.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:15 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess that I think it's way too soon to evaluate the Obama administration's response to this particular disaster, and anyone who tries to do so right now is probably going to pay way too much attention to relatively superficial things like presidential photo ops. Later on, we'll be better able to evaluate the politics of the situation, but right now I think that's not really possible, and any attempt to do so is probably going to end up being more about partisan bickering and seeing what one wants to see than about any substantive analysis.
posted by craichead at 9:21 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not to belittle the extent of the tragic storm in America yesterday, but yesterday was also the tenth anniversary of a cyclone that struck Bangladesh and killed 138,000 people and left 10,000,000 homeless.
posted by kozad at 10:21 AM on April 30, 2011


Nobody is saying we should discuss the political dimensions of this at the cost of helping the people affected by this disaster. So that's a straw man.

Imagine a town that votes to defund their fire department, and complains bitterly about paying state taxes in general and any taxes going to the state fire departments in general. Then a massive fire erupts in the town - now they cry loudly for the state fire department to come help, and why are they so slooow! Isn't it appropriate, to at some point ask how they square all this? Is that not a discussion to be had?

I tell you why it's important to have that discussion. Because, sadly, otherwise cognitive dissonance will prevent those towns people from connecting the dots, however obvious such connections may seem. It is a fact, that pluralities of voters in many of the affected areas are acting exactly like the towns people in the example above. And we've tried saying nothing before - this is not the first time, that these areas have benefitted from policies designed for the greater public good - policies they've also bitterly opposed. And what was the result of this polite silence? That local demagogues can spew their propaganda and talking points unopposed, with the result being that underfunded local and federal agencies are less equipped to deal with natural disasters, putting everyone in jeopardy. And of course this can be extended to politics outside of disaster relief - including healthcare.

So perhaps subtlety doesn't work. It certainly has not worked so far. Maybe it's time to get honest and start calling a spade a spade. Enough of this deference in face of ignorance. Maybe progressive Democrats should get LOUD. Because quiet and deferential has not worked. Help people regardless of their politics - absolutely. But don't be silent either.
posted by VikingSword at 10:35 AM on April 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


VikingSword:

Exactly.

At the risk of taking this train a little further off the rails: this is the ages-old argument over the size and responsibility of government. And to those of us on the left, it's an argument we've been losing for the last 40 years.

The conversation has devolved into sound-bites. The cogent well-rounded arguments have been explained and re-explained so many times that both sides jump to sloganeering. My side says "We have a revenue problem...", their side says "We don't have a revenue problem , we have a spending problem..", my side says "We don't have a spending problem, we have a priorities problem....", ad nauseum.

People who are politically aware can usually comprehend and parse the shortcuts taken. The problem arises when people buy into the slogans without understanding the history or the politics. Educate. Educate. Educate.

(Back to the tornadoes - I don't have any spare funds these days, but I just went down and donated blood at the local Red Cross. I am a universal donor, so I give regularly - but it's an easy and satisfying way for anyone to help. It only takes a few minutes.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:16 AM on April 30, 2011


Not to belittle the extent of the tragic storm in America yesterday, but yesterday was also the tenth anniversary of a cyclone that struck Bangladesh and killed 138,000 people and left 10,000,000 homeless.

What possible interpretation for this comment should we draw besides trying to downplay the severity of the storms?
posted by Justinian at 11:16 AM on April 30, 2011


but it's an easy and satisfying way for anyone to help.
I hate to further derail, but this isn't true. Huge numbers of people are ineligible to give blood, including many people reading this. In fact, I'm fairly sure that the number of people who can't give blood, because they're men who have had sex wither other men or take medication or have lived in a prohibited country or recently returned from Iraq, is way larger than the number of people who can't spare ten dollars for the Red Cross.
posted by craichead at 11:33 AM on April 30, 2011


Huge numbers of people are ineligible to give blood, including many people reading this.

You're right, of course. I didn't mean to offend. ( IIRC, though, some people who can't give blood can donate plasma.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:47 AM on April 30, 2011


I've been "affected" by this (in that I've temporarily relocated to Auburn from Huntsville, and basically gotten a 4 day weekend out of it b/c of the power outage, so don't feel bad for me).

You now have my permission on behalf of Alabama to make this a political discussion!

Anyway, while I'm sure that it appears hypocritical for the governor to request aid to rebuild in the wake of the tornadoes, I've got to say that my own anecdotal experience is that there are many right-wingers who aren't hypocrites in any way whatsoever. (I say this as a person who votes democratic 90% of the time (occasionally an individual Democrat will be too much of a scumbag to consider) and gave $300~ to Obama's campaign).

For example, on the afternoon of the storms, one of my fundamentalist creationist climate change denying co-workers was already out with his adult Sunday-school classmates clearing the road with chainsaws. (This was before the danger had completely passed). I think there is a good chance that he'd take the opportunity to refuse federal help and simply organize churches to do all this type of work. Not to deal with false equivalence, but neither political "side" operates in a sequestered environment that allows them to be completely free of the machinations of the opposite end of the spectrum. Right wingers can't exist in a system free of social programs, and left wingers can't exist in a system free of the military industrial complex.

I mean you are dealing with a mindset that believes the "secular" government's only legitimate role is ensuring that you are free from outside influence in how you order your community. If you are trapped in the rubble of your house, you're getting pulled out by your local church, etc etc, pretty much everything that could be called a social program ought to be locally faith based. It envisions de-facto domestic theocracy, but I would hesitate to call it hypocritical. I just think it is wrong, but he's out there with chainsaws at the moment and I'm definitely not, so that should be taken into consideration before calling somebody hypocritical.

In my opinion right wing true believers don't care about claims that their states benefit more from social programs than they pay, I believe they think that those programs give money to people who don't deserve it and essentially boil down to outside influence attempting to enforce an irrational left wing ideology of equality, and they'd be (at first) happy to let those things go too.

What I'm saying is that as much as it is emotionally fulfilling to imagine not aiding Alabama because you are ticked off at right wing budget cuts, as always the people you are going to hurt are not the well connected and politically dominant and largely white people. I wouldn't be at all surprised if given the opportunity they didn't cut public education to the bone, with the practical result being that white children get educated and black children do not.

Also, not to be bitter, but what the news is telling me right now is that folks outside the south care a lot more about the royal wedding than they do what is going on here, and when the local radio stations are broadcasting "Where-you-can-get-food" "Where-you-can-get-gas," letting people call in and ask questions, and carrying live press conferences about when people can expect power restored, and then you flip to the local NPR affiliate and they haven't bothered to interrupt Diane Rhem's show plugging Eric Felten's new book for this, it really does seem like the right wing is the authentic voice of the people actually in the south, that they actually care about the south, and that as much as I much prefer to listen to NPR, that they are largely an outside and unconcerned group that is more interested in telling me what they have decided is culturally important.

I'm not arguing that they have an explicit bias exactly, but recently (on NPR! where I hear about things like news from foreign countries), a commentator mentioned that if a government in a country in which the populace was largely Islamic did not reflect any Islamic values at all, then that government could not be considered to be representative or legitimate. There is some truth in that about organizations as well, and I can't help but feel after listening to the radio on the ride down to Auburn that the local NPR affiliate isn't really representative of the community that it broadcasts to, and in a way this makes it "not-local," an instrument of another culture with other opinions on what is important to discuss and think about and know. Not because it is biased in its coverage, but because it fails to reflect local biases on what is worth covering, and then in a crisis it betrays a startling level of disconnect from that community.

So that's my take on the trivial and political issues per my experience over the past few days. I'm glad Obama visited, it was a good thing to do, I'm glad that there will be federal aid and social welfare, and heck if it does some good I'm glad that guy is out there with a chainsaw. I hope we are able to help the people who are suffering due to the storms as quickly and effectively as possible.
posted by SomeOneElse at 12:29 PM on April 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


By the way you tangentially brought up another important point-there are tons and tons of people in Alabama and other affected states that have intact homes but do not have power and are not going to have power for quite awhile. These folks will also be needing assistance-generators, ice, bottled water, etc.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:58 PM on April 30, 2011


Nice post, SomeOneElse, and an interesting perspective. Which is why, I guess things look as they do. It's really astonishing how quick economic development can be. You can totally transform a country in less than 50 years, as a number of "Tigers" have since WWII, going from rubble to the top of the class. I frequently think about the comparison between the economic history of Argentina and Japan. Over the past 100 years or so, it's been extremely instructive. Argentina started out way ahead from almost every point of view, including natural resources. And they had no WWII damage, unlike Japan. And yet, how very, very fast Japan overtook them, while Argentina sank into effective bankruptcy. The speed with which it happens is astonishing.

Which brings me to the American South. It's been almost 150 years since the Civil War ended. Plenty of time to go just about anywhere economically, politically and socially. Yet, for some reason, the South remains mired at the bottom of all sorts of socio-economic indicators. I mean, what gives? It's been plenty of time to recover from the Civil War. These natural disasters - other countries have had worse, much, much worse (including total devastation in war) - these are easy (relatively) to recover from. I have no doubt that if everyone puts their mind to it, the whole region could flower, and these disasters would not stop that. So why is it the way it is, and it's not going to change a thing? It's the culture and belief system of the people in charge there - hypocrites or not.

You know, I am a huge believer in letting people/countries be. Really I do. Do what you wish, and live with the consequences - you won't hear as much as a murmur from me. But when something starts affecting me and everyone, unavoidably, and critically (like global warming), I am forced to react. And that's where I say "it's time to say something". Otherwise, heck, I don't care if they swing from chandeliers for another 150 years, or eternity for that matter.

But no region in this country can be isolated, and we're all in it together. So I'm happy to help, but I'm afraid I am not going to shut up about things that matter to me.
posted by VikingSword at 1:03 PM on April 30, 2011


Which brings me to the American South. It's been almost 150 years since the Civil War ended. Plenty of time to go just about anywhere economically, politically and socially. Yet, for some reason, the South remains mired at the bottom of all sorts of socio-economic indicators. I mean, what gives?

I love this shit. An army from a much larger industrial country invades a smaller agricultural country for the benefit of the former's industrialists and banks. The smaller country's industry, infrastructure, government, and social fabric are demolished. Thirty percent of the smaller country's free males 18-40 years of age are killed and many more maimed and thus unfit for labor. After the war, the larger country imposes a military government run by its own citizens, freed slaves, and a handful of local collaborators and operates a spoils system for its well-connected industrialists and bankers. The slave class (almost 40 percent of the smaller country's population) is turned out to fend for themselves. The majority of the former slaves will stick around for generations. The predominant economic system that comes into place replaces African chattel slavery with serfdom, with both blacks and whites now enslaved. This system persists until the 1940s. Once the military government moves out, the citizens of the smaller country remember well their treatment at the hand of their conquerors and want nothing more to do with their "new" country and become increasingly insular, rejecting any and all outside influences. Bitterness at the freedmens' collaboration with the military government combined with the shock of many whites at finding themselves working as serfs along with blacks, when they were once yeoman farmers, leads the majority demographic to install a tiered racial class system that prevents the 40 percent of the population who were slaves from meaningful economic progress for almost a century.

Which brings me to now, when some yahoo on an internet message board scratches his goatee, adjusts his horn-rimmed glasses, and asks, "Hey, what's the dealio with South? Why are they so poor? And why don't they think what I think? How long will it take them to come around to being like the people where I live?"

Jesus Fucking Christ.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 2:05 PM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


[Backs away slowly from thread]
posted by craichead at 2:38 PM on April 30, 2011


I do believe the south was in a fine position to rebuild themselves starting in about 1880, had they wanted to do so. There was no lack of capital by the end of the 19th century, even in a backwoods like Arkansas.

(I say 'they,' but I'm from Arkansas)
posted by wierdo at 2:55 PM on April 30, 2011


I was going to jump in and say "tornados bad, but stormy skies make for dramatic photos". I don't know though. This thread is starting to look as threatening as the skies have the last couple of weeks.
posted by DaddyNewt at 2:57 PM on April 30, 2011


I love this shit. An army from a much larger industrial country invades a smaller agricultural country for the benefit of the former's industrialists and banks.

And we're off to the races. What I like about you, ferdinand.bardamu, is that you make long arguments unnecessary. You get to the point plenty fast, and there's no doubt where you stand, no need to respond. So congrats.
posted by VikingSword at 3:34 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


as much as it is emotionally fulfilling to imagine not aiding Alabama because you are ticked off at right wing budget cuts

WHAT!? What in the world kind of straw man is that? Who in this thread is gaining emotional fulfillment by imagining not aiding Alabama? Do you seriously believe any of the folks in this thread that have offered criticisms of the politics that can hamper emergency assistance after such a tragedy actually imagines, for a second, any such thing?

I'm not sure whether that's more offensive or f.bardamu's Bizarro-world historical revisionism that paints the South as poor, languishing victims of northern aggression a hundred and fifty years after a war the South started, without any reference to the politics of the South that have continued to hamper their development today. (And I say this as a Southerner and a Son of the Confederacy.)
posted by darkstar at 4:15 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


(To be clear, "Son of the Confederacy" refers to the descendant of soldiers who fought in the war. I certainly don't fly the confederate flag or think wistfully back to some imagined golden era of the noble south, etc.)
posted by darkstar at 4:18 PM on April 30, 2011




Oh, well, I feel like letting the right stew in its objectivist utopia would be quite fitting punishment often, and I try to summon the better angels of my own nature against that feeling. If you don't feel that way, then congratulations on being you, I suppose. I apologize for accidentally grouping/projecting on you when I was working through my own feelings on this.
posted by SomeOneElse at 4:54 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh noes:
@charliesheen: Thank you David! RT @dhair7 Tuscaloosa get excited the warlock himself @charliesheen is coming to pay respects to our glorious town tomorrow
4 hours ago via Twittelator
Hasn't this fine city suffered enough?!
posted by Rhaomi at 6:52 PM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


If he does show up there maybe he might get some much needed perspective on what is important in life.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:07 PM on April 30, 2011


I apologize for accidentally grouping/projecting on you when I was working through my own feelings on this.

Fair enough...I can see your point. :)
posted by darkstar at 7:17 PM on April 30, 2011


Mr. Gunn writes "Yes, much props to the guy in picture #17. Seeing all the cinder block rubble from othr buildings makes me wonder just exactly what that room was reinforced with."

Steel reinforcement placed in the cavities of the block and then concrete poured in probably. While the best tornado shelters are below grade it's not all that hard or even expensive to build an adequate surface level shelter. Certainly less expensive than a hospital stay or a funeral.

FEMA even has an extensive guide and companion drawings in DWG or PDF (combined drawing PDF) available for free download. Also includes an informative map of tornado danger zones that pretty well shows the entire eastern half of the continental US is at risk of at least some ef3-ef5 tornado activity (Page 15). Page 19 gives a basic graphic of what kind of wind events can be expected in any particular region. Note that straight line winds from a hurricane can be just as damaging as the winds generated by tornadoes.

ICFS are an especially attractive option for DIY concrete work for the walls of shelters.

IMO it's criminal that builders get away with constructing new housing in high risk areas that include fashiony stuff like granite counter tops and jacuzzi tubs but don't include safe rooms. As you can see in this drawing a safe room can be incorporated into the construction of standard rooms, for example bathrooms, so they don't "waste" any square footage (well a little as the walls are thicker than a standard stud wall).

St. Alia of the Bunnies writes "By the way you tangentially brought up another important point-there are tons and tons of people in Alabama and other affected states that have intact homes but do not have power and are not going to have power for quite awhile. These folks will also be needing assistance-generators, ice, bottled water, etc."

It still amazes me that anyone, let alone people living in a tornado area, doesn't have sufficient water for several weeks squirrelled away in the bottom of a closet or under the bed or something. Assuming the local tap water is drinkable it costs practically nothing to store potable water against an extended emergency. The lack of generation is more understandable as generators are cantankerous contraptions.
posted by Mitheral at 1:34 AM on May 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Any mefites want a sit rep report, drop me a mefi mail.
posted by zerobyproxy at 6:40 AM on May 1, 2011


It still amazes me that anyone, let alone people living in a tornado area, doesn't have sufficient water for several weeks squirrelled away in the bottom of a closet or under the bed or something.

Who does this? Stockpiles several weeks of water under the bed? And even if you had done that, it would be scattered over three counties like the rest of your possessions. There may be different perspectives on how to handle the aftermath of this storm, but first and foremost people need physical help and supplies and not condescension.

The tornado we're talking about is unlike anything that's ever been seen here. It is not something we should have just been better prepared for.
posted by shopefowler at 10:13 AM on May 1, 2011


And even if you had done that, it would be scattered over three counties like the rest of your possessions.

You missed the part where St. Alia of the Bunnies wrote about how many people whose homes WERE NOT DAMAGED do not have access to power or sanitary water.

The tornado we're talking about is unlike anything that's ever been seen here.

Wrong, F5s are rare but not unheard of. In fact, they're more frequent in Dixie Alley than Tornado Alley. Even so, less powerful tornadoes are still able to level houses or make them uninhabitable (Even an F2 can take a roof off, making a safe room desirable) and disrupt power & water service to those whose homes remain intact.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 10:35 AM on May 1, 2011


shopefowler writes "Who does this? Stockpiles several weeks of water under the bed?"

Admittedly I don't have 16 kids or something but 2l of water per day for my three person household plus 2L per day for the dog and cats is only 8L per day and 56L per week. Call it 5-24s of water a week and 10 cases for two weeks. I'm way to cheap to buy that much water though, I've only got a couple cases of purchased water. The rest is in reclaimed 2L pop bottle. 60-2L of water stored under the stairs if we ever need it. I even managed to score some 2L bottle crates to stack them in. I've been doing this kind of thing ever since the '98 ice storm when people in Montreal were basically on their own for a week. I don't know if Vancouver is going to move a few meters closer to Japan in my lifetime but I'm trying to be prepared as possible for it and other disasters none the less.

shopefowler writes "The tornado we're talking about is unlike anything that's ever been seen here. It is not something we should have just been better prepared for."

If you look at the map I linked to early you'll see that F5 not only should be expected in that area they practically common. Even so the water would also be useful for hurricane preparedness as well. Or an extensive blackout during the summer caused by an aging electrical infrastructure unable to meet the demand of record high temperatures. Or even plain civil unrest which can happen anywhere.

And unlike say generators or huge stockpiles of food or an RV to bug out in which all require capital and have associated on going maintenance costs anyone with a stable residence can develop a stock pile of water for practically free. Any plastic food safe container can be used to store water including milk jugs, pop bottles, peanut butter jars (are those plastic in the States?). Heck even if you have to buy water at $5 a case it's only an out lay of $50-$100 for the average family and bought water stores for several years in a dark place.

shopefowler writes "And even if you had done that, it would be scattered over three counties like the rest of your possessions."

Unlike say hurricanes relatively few people loose their homes to tornadoes, even a monster series like this. St. Alia of the Bunnies was saying that people not directly affected were going without water because the electrical grid was down. These are the people that could have been more prepared. Even if your house is destroyed a stock pile of water is one of the things that should be in your shelter.
posted by Mitheral at 1:49 PM on May 1, 2011


Those of us who live in hurricane prone areas generally know we really should have a stockpile (yeah, I don't unless I know one is in the Atlantic heading my way but still....) but at least in my area you don't really think about this in connection with a tornado.

Obviously this past month has changed my thinking, at least.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:55 PM on May 1, 2011


Huh... I take back what I said before -- Sheen was refreshingly classy, and will be returning for a celebrity fundraiser soon. Thanks, dude.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:37 PM on May 2, 2011


Somebody on Reddit posted a video of two guys attempting to follow the storm. It's not only an excellent showcase of the Darwin Award-tempting idiocy of wannabe stormchasers (and the authoritative voice of meteorologist James Spann), but a good way to point out the sheer size of this thing.

They're on 15th Street for most of the video, which is the main horizontal road in this image (Google Map of the area with tornado path here). At the moment the tornado crossed that street, the funnel began where they are at 2:00 (right after the intersection), had its center where they are at 2:15 (by the Hokkaido sign), and ended where they are at 2:30 (when they zoom in on the fire). It was a monster.

As for the rest of the video, they watch the tornado cross where they were (from a distance) starting at 7:40. And after a period of unwatchable zoomed-in blurs, they arrive back at the same area, now destroyed, at 11:00. The rest of the video from there is both frightening and heartbreaking.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:29 AM on May 3, 2011


Follow-up photolog from In Focus: Messages in the aftermath
posted by Rhaomi at 4:05 PM on May 16, 2011


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