COLUMN: Shelter from the storm

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

Like many of you, I awoke Thursday morning to the uncertainty of what I would find once I parted the window blind slats. Once I did, I found the unwelcome sight of downed trees and damaged property in my neighborhood—all part of the destruction Hurricane Zeta left in its wake as it lumbered through Central Alabama in the wee hours of the morning.

As a lifelong native of the area, I remember other hurricanes and tropical storms that have passed through over the years—Opal, Ivan and more recently Alberto—but none have affected me quite the way Zeta has.

Thursday morning, I peered out the window to find an entire tree uprooted and overturned, crushing the chain link fence that lines our backyard. Then, a look out the front window revealed a major branch of the maple tree in my front yard torn from its host and nearly blocking our driveway.

By now this column might seem like a complaint, but it is not. I’m thankful for the downed trees and damaged fence in my yard. I say that because the storm could just as easily have ripped our home apart, but it didn’t—and, most importantly, we are all OK. If you are reading this, I hope you can say the same.

At first, the damage seemed like a big deal to me, but that’s only because I’ve always been fortunate and this is the most I’ve suffered at the hands of a storm. Some, however, are dealing with what you might call one of life’s storms—a change brought about by the loss of a loved one or the loss of a home.

While the death count from Zeta was low compared to other events, I believe it’s important to recognize that for the people affected it’s very real. While on a lesser scale, the same can be said about the loss of a physical house, what we often call a “home,” although I’ve come to define the latter more as the people you’re with rather than the structure that surrounds you. Please look around for those in your community who have suffered loss, and if you can help, please do so.

Where would we be without our first responders—the firefighters, rescue personnel, paramedics, law enforcement, volunteers and many others? This is true all the way from the fire chief down to the next-door neighbor who takes the time to lend a hand—or a chainsaw.

Fortunately, Shelby County is full of those who help. Be sure to thank those who do, and if you have the opportunity, pass it on.