Broken brick, splintered 2x4s, a wireless router, ceramic refrigerator magnets, tattered kelly green throw pillows. All that stood was the second floor and roof, now at ground level. The mailbox was gone, and we couldn’t find the address of this house that once stood. A woman approached as we stood in what had been the basement.
“Is this 5551 Hudson Drive?” I had to repeat myself over the loud “BEEP BEEP” of heavy machinery backing up next door. “Is this 5551 Hudson Drive?”
She paused for a few seconds, lost in her thoughts. “Why, I’m not sure. So much has happened. It’s just so overwhelming.” She struggled hard to hold back a flood of tears.
At that moment it hit me. Before arriving, I read all the reports for this tornado on Google News, which weren’t many. This was my first disaster response mission, and I didn’t know what to expect. More than 200 homes were hit, I had read. But the tornado that tore through Clay, Alabama, took away this woman’s home, and scattered everything on the yard. Now the destruction had a face.
As she turned around to hide the tears I told her we would look around the house to see how we could help. She turned toward me again, gave me a big Southern hug and thanked us. Some things cannot be broken by a storm.
-Aubrey Arcangel, U.S. Army, Iraq War Veteran</em>
I am always impressed at how the community pulls together during times like this; equally impressive is how huge our “community” in Alabama has become. Team Rubicon has done much for the people here and as a fellow Alabamian I will always be grateful for their work and mission.
I look forward to watching and working with Team Rubicon in the future as it continues to grow and reach out to people in need. It is a true honor to serve with these men and women.
<em>-Dane Williams, U.S. Army, Afghanistan and Iraq</em>
The volunteer turnout today really impressed me. It was heartwarming to see some of the victims of the April tornadoes come to “repay the favor” to others in the community after this disaster. Members of a church we worked at rallied together to clean up the property, and past members came to help. The strength and poise of the people affected inspired me. Even though they lost their homes, their optimism continues to carry them through the difficult times.
<em>-Rachel Elsey, disaster volunteer</em>
I missed Team Rubicon’s inaugural domestic mission in Alabama last year because of a series of storms that tore through my own state of Arkansas, one of which crushed my truck. I feel privileged to be able to take my new truck to volunteer in Alabama after this latest round of storms.
I love Team Rubicon. You can’t find a more motivated, versatile group of volunteers anywhere. The timeliness of the Rubicon mission is well tailored for our generation. I will follow them wherever they go, and contribute every way I can.