The older I get, the more I'm convinced that we have more than our share of good people living around us. People who are willing to share what they have with total strangers who are hurting and in need. Of course I'm referencing the tragic tornado that ripped through our part of the world on Sunday afternoon and the outpouring of love and caring exhibited in the aftermath of this weather disaster.
Just like many of you, Paula and I rounded up the dog and the cat and headed into our safe place — a bathroom in the interior of our house — until the all-clear was sounded by the weather team at WSFA TV. Yes, we followed the meteorologists' pleas to be prepared for the potentially powerful storm as it moved from west to east shrouded by a heavy wall of rain.
For many years — when I was anchoring the news at WSFA-TV — I had been on the air urging folks to take the weather watches and warnings seriously. As a "civilian" — no longer inside the safety of the brick and block building at 12 East Delano — I didn't hesitate to take that advice to seek shelter.
We never lost power during the time the weather team had projected for the twister to pass near our neighborhood ... but I had my cellphone tuned to Channel 12's live, online broadcast — just in case things got really bad.
Being in that safe spot with Paula, K.C.(the cat) and Charlie Brown (our dog) reminded me of the time we had been awakened by the severe weather sirens just in time to hear a small tornado touch down in our neighborhood. Even that small twister was unnerving.
Sunday afternoon Paula and I watched with growing anxiety the projected path of the tornado as it moved out of Montgomery and east into Macon County. For a while it looked like Tuskegee would be hit... but later it became clear that the powerful tornado would pass to the south and into neighboring Lee County.
I know WSFA-TV Chief Meteorologist Josh Johnson from my last few years at the TV station. He is not an overly emotional weathercaster when he's on the air plotting the course of a tornado.
In fact, Josh's mastery of meteorology, roads (by county, state or interstate designation) landmarks and even the location of small town barbecue restaurants and historic monuments made me feel like he was on top of the situation.
When Josh and the rest of the weather team started using terms like "catastrophic," I knew we were in for some really bad weather. It's not a term to they use lightly.
Sadly, we all know what happened next ... with the tragic loss of lives — and the destruction of homes, buildings and automobiles. It was a powerful EF4 with top winds of 170 mph nearly a mile wide and 26-plus miles long.
Once first responders had assessed the situation, they asked for the public's help in getting shelter, food and clothing for the storm victims.
The response was incredibly impressive. Within 24 hours good folks — often neighbors of the victims — had dropped off hundreds of pieces of clothing, food items, shoes, jackets and more at several donation centers. Monetary donations are pouring in, too.
Even President Trump called Gov. Kay Ivey to promise "A+" treatment for those who were hurting in Alabama.
Believe me, the giving spirit of the people in Lee County and surrounding areas is nothing short of amazing — helping their fellow man in times of suffering and loss.
And perhaps most importantly, thanks to all of you who have prayed for the victims and their families.
It makes me even prouder to live in these parts.