On March 19, 2018, shortly after 8:30, the gut-wrenching sound of a tornado siren filled the air of Jacksonville, Alabama.
The beautiful city that is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian trail was ravaged by an EF 3 tornado.
The horrifying sound of a freight train ripped through the streets as many people took shelter for the impending doom that will accompany that haunting sound. It's the sound that makes you fear for your life. It's the sound that causes an overwhelming amount of emotions. It's a sound we never want to hear.
Devastated doesn't begin to describe the pain that many residents and students feel. There are simply no words to describe the emotions that are welling up inside those who have a special connection to Jacksonville. It all feels like a dream. A dream that you just want to go away. To hear first responders say it looks like a "war zone" really makes the hearts of those who love Jacksonville sink.
That eerie sound that swept through the city that night is so hard to think about. It has haunted the dreams and thoughts of the students at JSU and the residents of the city. It's a haunting dream that will continue to plague our minds as we work together to rebuild our beautiful city.
Thinking about the destruction the tornado left behind nauseates me. Many residents are without a home. JSU is damaged. It is all so overwhelming to think about. Fortunately, the students and faculty at JSU are on spring break this week. On March 20th, the mayor reported that there were no fatalities. That is a true blessing. Buildings can be replaced, but not the lives of the residents of Jacksonville are irreplaceable.
March 19 will be a day we will never forget. It was the day that will haunt residents throughout the years. It's hard to see a city with great people go through this.
As meteorologist and city officials said the chilling words "seek shelter now" and "there is a tornado on the ground" many people did not know what would be the outcome. Nobody ever wants to hear those words or hear your city or town mentioned specifically. It is an eye-opening experience and we will overcome it.
We Are Jacksonville Strong.
Thank you to the first responders who worked tirelessly throughout the night and next day.
Thank you to the meteorologist for keeping everybody informed.
Thank you to the city officials, JSU, volunteers, and those who have donated.
Each and every one of us appreciates all the thoughts, prayers, and donations.