Monday, May 9, 2011

Storm Stories--Pictures Fail

The past couple of weeks, have illuminated images from towns across Alabama and much of the south, that are hard to take—images of nature’s power, destruction and loss. But along with those images, is the revelation of what really matters—people, family, neighbors. Behind the sadness is strength and hope and love.

As teams of folks from the Jim ‘N Nick’s family traveled in vans and on our Bar-B-Que rigs to devastated neighborhoods to share food, much was witnessed. These are not all of the stories of course, but just a small collection of what we saw:

In Alberta City there was one house standing but with major damage. All other houses were reduced to rubble. Alberta City is a neighborhood several miles wide and deep that simply does not exist anymore.

We saw a son pull his 79 year-old father’s oxygen machine (working!!!) and 2 oxygen bottles out of the debris of their home while the whole family jumped and screamed to rejoice at the miracle of the find. A miracle indeed as EMT workers confirmed that his labored breathing and elevated blood pressure were in a critical phase.

Though there were many people about, there was a strange quiet about the place broken by a woman’s constant, sad, but hopeful calls for “Tinkerbell” - her lost cat.

A barefoot woman in a bathrobe was digging though bricks trying to find a pair of matching shoes.

We saw a house where all that remained was the front door and about 2 feet of foyer space. We met the man that lived in that house and he told us that he and his son had curled up next to that door and prayed their way through the storm. He emerged with only a 3-inch scratch across his arm.

There was a family of eight that, when we approached with food, used their fallen chimney as a makeshift picnic table.

There were these things and more. Everywhere we looked we saw destruction, but in the midst, saw grateful smiles for the food made possible by those of you who support Jim ‘N Nick’s by eating at our restaurants and the good folks on our team who took time to travel to the devastated neighborhoods.

This is just a small reporting on one neighborhood in Tuscaloosa. Jim N Nick’s teams experienced the same and more in Pleasant Grove, Gardendale, Fultondale and Jasper.

Here are some ways you can help remotely:

American Red Cross 
U.S. mobile phone users can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 automatically through your phone bill. Or call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit

Salvation Army 
Text GIVE to 80888 to donate $10 through your phone bill. Or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY or visit and designate “Tornado Relief.”

Alabama Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund 
Visit or call 1-888-421-1266.

West Alabama Food Bank 
Text FOOD to 27722 to donate $10, or visit

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