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Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics]

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Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 18:30:45 Reply

I rode to Tuscaloosa, Al from Atlanta, Ga on my motorcycle last monday. I felt like I was being called to go volunteer, so I just went. I had tried to sign up with the red cross and other volunteer groups that were going, but they either required me to be 18 (I'm 17.), they cost too much, or they weren't happening for weeks. I didn't have very much money or very much time. I was supposed to go, and if I wanted to go, I had to make it happen whether I knew I would have a place to stay and food to eat once I got there.

When I told my mom what I was doing, she reacted exactly as I thought she would. I explained to her that in the State of Georgia, you can legally leave your home without the parents' consent, and my motorcycle is titled and insured in my name. She really couldn't stop me. Once she realized that, and that I was serious, she ended up giving me some money just before I left and wished me luck.

Newgrounds played a part in getting me there, too. I had heard rumors that I wouldn't even be able to get into Tuscaloosa because the National guard closed off the city due to contractors ripping people off and widespread looting. Cootie lives there, and was able to give me some information through some PMs and in a thread thread I made before I left.

Finally, when I got to Tuscaloosa, I pulled off my exit and then I saw another biker up at the red light. I pulled up next to him and told him I just rode from Atlanta to come volunteer, and asked where I should go. He pointed in a direction down the street. I asked him why, and he said "I don't know, just go that way."

So I did. I ended up finding my way to a red cross shelter. I went in and told them my story and that I wanted to volunteer. They were impressed with me until they asked where I was staying. I told them I didn't have a place to stay, and I was hoping to stay there while I volunteered. Apparently, the shelters are only for the people who's homes have been destroyed, I probably should have figured that, though.

I walked back out to my bike, getting nervous because it was getting dark and I was starting to think I was going to have to sleep outside. I wasn't able to bring a tent with me, plus I didn't have very much money. I brought a small tarp, a blanket, and a rope to make a makeshift tent incase I had to sleep outside and I had some food. All motels/hotels were filled within 30 miles, and besides I couldn't afford a room for 5 nights anyway.

As I was walking out the door, someone came up to me and handed me an address, and I have a GPS on my phone so I used it to get me to a volunteer registration center next to a hospital. I went in there and told them I came to volunteer, and I got the answer I expected. "Oh sorry, you need to be 18." Then I told them I came here all the way from Atlanta on my motorcycle, and then they lightened up. The lady doing my forms wrote me off as 18.

They printed me a volunteer badge, and then when I told them I was a photographer and I brought my camera gear, they gave me a press badge as well. I could get in and out of the affected areas occupied by the police and national guard, and get through the military checkpoints.

I had to do a quick orientation with some other volunteers, and midway into it a guy came up to me and said he heard I didn't have a place to stay, so he gave me a phone number to a pastor. I talked to the pastor and he said he's put up a lot of volunteers at his Church, and they provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and will give you work to do out in the city. He invited me to dinner, so I finished up the orientation and went to the church. I ate dinner with the other volunteers staying there, and the pastor introduced me to some students from Auburn University who came to volunteer. He told me I was staying with them.

So for the next few days, I had a room with some chill college kids. Pretty much I'd get up at 6, we'd go join up with a chainsaw team, chainsaw trees that had gotten in the roads and on people's houses, and then I'd break off some time in the afternoon to go photograph all the destroyed areas. I went into a lot of destroyed and abandoned buildings, and the national guard, as well as the cops, mistook me for a looter multiple times. I'd just flash my badge and they'd leave me alone or politely kick me out. I left Friday, and I've gotta say it's an experience I'll never forget and nothing I've ever done has ever felt this rewarding. I wish I could have stayed longer, and I plan on going back again this summer.

In this thread, I'm posting Tuscaloosa as I saw it through my camera lens after the Tornado that destroyed half the town on 4/27. If you want to donate to those affected, you can do so through paypal here.

I realize the wall of text above could probably build a 3,000 square foot home but props if you actually read the entire thing.

And before you say "Doesn't this belong in the art forum?" I'm not posting this as art, if anything it's more like journalism.

First photo, just riding around somewhere in the northeastern part of the city that just got utterly fucked. No one lives in any of these neighborhoods anymore, the only people in these parts of the city are either volunteers, the national guard, or the city workers.

Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics]

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 18:33:27 Reply

The Army base got plowed. Shortly after taking this, I was politely kicked out by the National Guard.

It's also worth noting these photos have been decreased in quality so I could upload them.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 18:36:31 Reply

Most of the homes that got hit aren't even standing anymore. The second floor is completely gone, and there's still clothes in the closet up there. It was almost surreal, like this was a city that just carpet bombed.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 18:38:26 Reply

I can't confirm this, but I was told by some workers that multiple people died here, and this area is where most of the 41+ fatalities in the city happened.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 18:42:53 Reply

That town is a total train wreck. Nicely done photoshots though. In photo three with the upper floor closet from a distance the towels/shirts on top look a tiny bit like two hands together.


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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 18:43:37 Reply

I'm glad everything went well for you. It sounds like you did pretty good considering you showed up with no plans of where you were going to stay.

Helping people feels good. You helped more people in a few days than many people get the pleasure of doing in their entire life.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 18:53:14 Reply

It probably isn't safe to be exploring buildings that are falling apart, and if your lungs start burning that means its time to go outside.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 18:55:16 Reply

I know how it looks. I live here. Too bad we didn't get to hang, eh?


For I am and forever shall be... a master ruseman.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:12:43 Reply

At 5/17/11 06:55 PM, Cootie wrote: I know how it looks. I live here. Too bad we didn't get to hang, eh?

I was up for it but your ass went out of town, I'll probably be coming back again in the summer though.

This used to say "Salvation Army."

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:13:57 Reply

At 5/17/11 07:12 PM, ComradeMolotov wrote:
At 5/17/11 06:55 PM, Cootie wrote: I know how it looks. I live here. Too bad we didn't get to hang, eh?
I was up for it but your ass went out of town, I'll probably be coming back again in the summer though.

This used to say "Salvation Army."

Sounds good, mane. Just hit me up when you want to. Also, I told my parents you were a communist and they laughed their asses off.


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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:16:11 Reply

Dang. The media barely even touched that.


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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:21:40 Reply

At 5/17/11 07:16 PM, camobch0 wrote: Dang. The media barely even touched that.

BUT WHAT ABOUT DONALD TRUMP AND LINDSAY LOHAN AND LETS TALK MORE ABOUT OSAMA BECAUSE THATS NOT BEATING A DEAD ARABIC HORSE OR NOTHIN'

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:22:28 Reply

Oh wow. That seems like a pilferers dream.


1, 2, 3, Coffee 4, 5, 8, too late

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:24:02 Reply

At 5/17/11 07:16 PM, camobch0 wrote: Dang. The media barely even touched that.

They killed Osama 2 days afterward so everybody forgot.

At 5/17/11 07:13 PM, Cootie wrote: Sounds good, mane. Just hit me up when you want to. Also, I told my parents you were a communist and they laughed their asses off.

I definitely will. And I'm sure that's going to go over well once I get back.

Why god, why kill the Ducati and let Twilight live?

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:24:03 Reply

god damn man. that's pretty damn brave of you.

more pics


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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:24:05 Reply

I have to say, this is pretty damn cool (in the way that looking at disaster sites and seeing once proud buildings after being hit) and you're awesome for going into volunteering to help the victims and for going into destroyed building wreckage to take these pictures.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:26:33 Reply

At 5/17/11 07:24 PM, DirtyMeatball wrote: I have to say, this is pretty damn cool (in the way that looking at disaster sites and seeing once proud buildings after being hit) and you're awesome for going into volunteering to help the victims and for going into destroyed building wreckage to take these pictures.

Good lord, note to self: Proof read any post that you change sentence order in after typing.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:29:29 Reply

At 5/17/11 07:22 PM, Corky-D wrote: Oh wow. That seems like a pilferers dream.

Speaking of which, I came across a game room in a church that got nailed. Found a lot of video game cases, controllers, and cords, but looters had just taken the discs out and ditched the cases. None of the buildings affected have power, whether they're standing or not, and I did actually enter a house where two guys where stealing tools from the garage. I said I was just taking photos and ended up smoking a cigarette together, then they left. I thought I was about to get my bike and camera stolen, but thankfully even some people have standards here.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:32:56 Reply

At 5/17/11 07:24 PM, DirtyMeatball wrote: I have to say, this is pretty damn cool (in the way that looking at disaster sites and seeing once proud buildings after being hit) and you're awesome for going into volunteering to help the victims and for going into destroyed building wreckage to take these pictures.

Thank you, I just wish I could have stayed longer, but I had to work and school. I considered quitting my job and just staying there indefinitely, making up the schoolwork whenever, but I figured I'll always be able to come back for another week or two.

At 5/17/11 07:24 PM, Irrelephant wrote: god damn man. that's pretty damn brave of you.

more pics

Have some more why don't you.

Rock band drumset, Playstation 2 under it, exploring the same church. I had to go buy a flash light before I came back this far.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:36:53 Reply

At 5/17/11 07:32 PM, ComradeMolotov wrote: Have some more why don't you.

Rock band drumset, Playstation 2 under it, exploring the same church. I had to go buy a flash light before I came back this far.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:38:36 Reply

At 5/17/11 07:36 PM, MomradeColotov wrote:
At 5/17/11 07:32 PM, ComradeMolotov wrote: Have some more why don't you.

Rock band drumset, Playstation 2 under it, exploring the same church. I had to go buy a flash light before I came back this far.
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

Shoulda grabbed that shit

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:38:40 Reply

Was very close to looting this. I did take it across the street to a grocery store that still had power to plug it in, and it did turn on. I just couldn't do it, maybe some of you could steal a PS2 from the rubble of a church but I just can't. I put it back where I found it.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:45:53 Reply

I will admit to the one time I did loot something. In this kitchen I looted 2, yeah that's right 2, cans of sprite zero. I was thirsty and it was fucking hot.

But seriously though, this is something I'd imagine out of the zombie apocalypse. There's still food in the fridge (Moldy of course.), and food in the pantries of these houses. It's like the zombies came, everybody fled, and then the military bombed the crap out of the city to try to kill the infected.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:48:50 Reply

Reminds me of this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIwuEAjNJ 1U


gsk.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:50:51 Reply

In a portable kennel set up by the Humane Society.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:53:40 Reply

Much respect for you OP.


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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 19:56:47 Reply

Poor volkswagen.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 20:04:37 Reply

At 5/17/11 07:56 PM, ComradeMolotov wrote: Poor volkswagen.

This and your first picture are my favorite ones. Something about that yellow tint makes it seem surreal.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 20:05:39 Reply

At 5/17/11 07:48 PM, Greenskullkid wrote: Reminds me of this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIwuEAjNJ 1U

That reminds of me something, too.

At 5/17/11 07:53 PM, JohnnyDamon wrote: Much respect for you OP.

Much appreciated.

I guess I have a thing for exploring abandoned churches.

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Response to Tuscaloosa Tornado Aftermath [Pics] 2011-05-17 20:11:53 Reply

At 5/17/11 08:05 PM, ComradeMolotov wrote: I guess I have a thing for exploring abandoned churches.

beautiful simply beautiful


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