Geiger, Alabama, post tornado

Geiger, Alabama, is right on the Mississippi border. It’s a small, poor, rural farming community set in a beautiful, green landscape. In the beginning of May the weather is just about perfect; high eighties, sunny. The only problem is the tornados. The city has been hit twice; the low economic status of the community means at lot of people live in trailors, which are more suseptable to tornado damage. Some of them have been thrown across their lots, smashed into other houses or objects. Others are simply demolished, heaps of rubble where there used to be a home.

It’s a small, tight community. Our DRC is set up in the town hall. In the week and a half since the first tornado hit the community has been working together to clear debris, most of it downed trees, knocked over and stripped of their foliage. The landscape looks like a giant walked across it; in places all the trees are broken and splintered, in others it’s like nothing happened. The town hall also works as a distribution point for bottled water, donated clothes and diapers. Everyone knows each other- as they wait for assistance they catch up and gossip. The socializing gives the DRC an air of a community hall, not of a disaster relief center.

It’s our second day here. We got here yesterday around ten, worked until 7.30 and came back at 6.30. We’re working thirteen hour days, seven days a week until further notice. It’s slow this morning; the community members had been under the impression that we were only open tomorrow. I hope the word gets out and more people come to see us- otherwise they’ll close our center down and move us somewhere else. There are twenty-eight declared counties in Alabama alone. Meanwhile, I’m exhausted, constantly. Thirteen hours of work, an hour’s commute, and trying to cook my meals in the hotel room (I brought a stand-alone electric burner and a little kitchen with me)… I haven’t even had a moment to practice the ukulele.

Being on ground zero for disasters like this really brings a reality to other people’s lives. When the woman across from you tells you she’s lost everything it starts to make you think. Alex owns very little, something which I’m jealous of him for. I just put four boxes of things in my mom’s basement to make room for him and Mirra to move in. We decided he’s going to get the smallest place to store his things.

What I have that I don’t want to lose really comes down to the people I love. Everything else… I think it’s negligible. It would be dreadfully inconvenient to no longer have clothes or books or whatever, but I could survive. I think that the reason everyone here is so optimistic about the disaster is that they didn’t lose anyone. Their houses were destroyed, but they’re staying with friends and family and hopefully we’re going to provide them with some money for starting over.

In a few days I’m going to post some pictures of the destruction, but I’d rather post pictures of the landscape, the children playing, the people gathering and laughing together, even after all this disaster.

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One response to this post.

  1. I was hoping maybe you’d get to come help somewhere here in GA so I could see you. Geiger is about a 5-hour drive from here. I’m so proud of you for getting involved in these kinds of tragedies. I know it’s heartbreaking.

    Love you,
    Lolly

    Reply

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