3 Thoughts I Immediately Had Once My Apartment Was Destroyed By A Tornado

3 Thoughts I Immediately Had Once My Apartment Was Destroyed By A Tornado

I am so proud to say I am a Gamecock, and we are #JSUStrong.
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As we all know in Jacksonville, Alabama, the F-3 tornado ravaged our town on the evening of March 19th. It was heart-wrenching getting calls from friends who were in their bathtubs crying while they heard the tornado spin as fast as a train, harming their ears.

They questioned whether the ceiling of the third floor of their apartment would hold to save their life, or if it would collapse by the wind, rain, and hail. I was thankful enough to have met a girl in the Navy Delayed Entry Program just days before, who sent me her tickets to see a concert in Atlanta the night of the devastation. It was a blessing in disguise or was until I saw after footage that night, and received numerous phone-tree calls.

During the storm, three thoughts went through my head:

1. Is my cat ok?

She had been there by herself since Friday, so three days already, and thanks to roadblocks, I would have to wait for another three. Six days without my pet, my baby, my familiar. I read posts for over a week of how people had pets locked away in their apartments and how they were denied entry to retrieve their pet.

Within that time, rescuers were contacting owners about pets found dead. DEAD. I know many people say the Jacksonville community is lucky for not having any casualties, but to many people, pets are family. They are living beings, they died every day due to people violating laws to keep owners out.

2. What will I do for a place to live?

I was receiving photos and calls about my friends completely losing their apartments and cars in the storm. I was told by my friends their accounts of being in their bathrooms tornado overhead, ceiling crashing, and then they would emerge from the rubble to outrun the second and third tornadoes.

Some friends after the tornadoes passed were pulling trapped neighbors from their apartments. Some were having to sit at the JPD watching as a guy is being told his arm will have to be amputated. I feel selfish now because all I could think of is wondering if for some reason my own apartment was gone if my cats were going to be a fluffy splat on the wall.

There was so much shock, I could not help but keep my mind on one thing: my cats at home. Yet, I believed every second of my worrying that God had a reason, and I guess my roommate was meant to have a sunroof.

3. What will this mean for classes?

This was a heavy question even before the tornado. Being a fourth-year student, looking at having to take extra semesters to finish my double major, I was already flummoxed about weighing finishing classes on limited funds, or joining the Navy. I have since chosen the Navy.

Many others have decided to handle the stress of classes and loss of school materials by moving back home and ditching their degrees altogether. Its a matter of how can a student ranging primarily ages 18-22, repurchase all school materials, dorm/apartment stuff to live and mentally manage finishing classes?

I mean, how can we have time to morn and get over the shock of some horrible circumstances caused by mother nature in such a short time and be able to mentally process coursework. Some of us do not even have a place to live, there is a four-page long wait list of people unable to find homes.

As the night seemed to never end, the sun rose to shine on a horrifying reality that I am not sure many can describe. Jacksonville State University was a campus I fell in love with because it was a spread-out small town. Therefore, I never felt swallowed like at Auburn and University of Alabama.

What is interesting is that morning, when the sun rose on our little town, everyone was already up on their feet working to make the town whole again. It is obvious we will never be the same, but that is not a bad thing. It means we will come back stronger and better than ever.

The campus buildings were already in bad shape, as many students had expressed concerns previously to the President and others in the last four years. In a weird way, maybe this causes the University to fix their money issues and realign their priorities to align with that of the student's needs. Maybe this is meant to remind us to not take things for granted, but at the end of the day, I am so proud to say I am a Gamecock, and we are #JSUStrong.

Cover Image Credit: JSU

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20 Of The Coolest Animal Species In The World

Animals that almost seem imaginary.
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The world is full of amazing animals. So amazing, that narrowing them down to 20 felt nearly impossible. To determine who made the cut for this list, I used very important factors such as, cuteness and how much some of them looked like Pokémon . I know, very official. So here are some of the coolest animals in the world.

1. Pink Fairy Armadillo

The pink fairy armadillo is the smallest and cutest species of armadillo. It is on the list of threatened species and is found in the sandy plains, dunes, and grasslands of Argentina. The pink fairy armadillo is a nocturnal creature that survives mostly on insects and plants.


2. Okapi

The okapi is an animal native to the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Although the stripes make many people believe okapi are related to zebra, they are actually closer to giraffe. Okapi are solitary creatures and come together to breed. They are herbivores, mostly eating leaves, grass, and other plants.


3. Glaucus Atlanticus or "the Blue Dragon"

These little dragon-like creatures are often only about a few inches long and can be found in the Indian Pacific Oceans. The blue dragon floats upside down in order to blend the blue side of them with the water, and the silver side with the surface of the ocean. This tiny dragon feeds on creatures like the man o' war and can even deliver a sting similar to it.


4. The Maned Wolf

The maned wolf is often found in the grasslands of south, central-west, and southeastern parts of Brazil. It is neither related to wolves nor foxes despite its appearance and name, but is actually closer to dogs. The maned wolf hunts alone and primarily eats both meat and plants (about 50% of its diet).


5. Fossa

The fossa is a carnivorous animal located in Madagascar. Despite having many traits similar to cats, it is more closely related to the Mongoose. The fossa is only found in forest habitats and can hunt in either daytime or night. Over 50 percent of its diet happens to be lemurs.


6. Japanese Spider Crab

As the name suggestions, the Japanese spider crab inhabits the waters surrounding Japan. In many parts of Japan, this crab can be considered a delicacy but can be considerably difficult to catch. The Japanese spider crab can grow to 12 feet long from claw to claw. There is only one sea creature-- amongst similar species (aka crustaceans)-- that beats the weight of a Japanese spider crab: the American Lobster.


7. Pacu Fish

Look closely at the teeth, do they look familiar? This fish is found in the waters of South America. This fish, while related to the piranha, can actually grow much larger. They can also be found in rivers like the Amazon and is an aid to the fishing industry. Unlike the piranha, pacu mostly only eat seeds and nuts, though can still create nasty injuries to other animals if need be.


8. Slow Loris

The slow loris is a nocturnal creature found in Southeast Asia. While very adorable, the loris's teeth are actually quite venomous. The toxin on their teeth can also be applied to fur through grooming to protect its babies from predators. Often times these creatures forage and spend time alone, although can on occasion be seen with other slow lorises. Apart from their toxic teeth, the slow lorises have another defense mechanism, in which they move nearly completely silently in order to prevent discovery.


9. Angora Rabbit

These cute, fluffy rabbits are among the hairiest breeds of rabbit of both wild and domestic types. These rabbits originated in Turkey although managed to spread throughout Europe and was even brought to the United States in the 20th century. These rabbits are often bred for their soft wool which can be made into clothing, and often get rid of their own coats every 3-4 months.


10. Axolotl

The axolotl or "Mexican salamander" (who looks like a Pokémon , if you ask me) is often spotted in lakes in various places around Mexico. These little salamanders are amphibious although often spend their adult lives strictly in the water. However, the population of these cute creatures is dwindling due to non-native predators and the continued urbanization of Mexico. The axolotl eats small worms, insects, and fish in order to survive.


11. Liger

The liger, however made up it sounds, is a real (and cute) animal created by a lion and a tiger mating. Ligers only seem to exist in captivity or zoos because the lion and tiger don't share the same habitat in the wild. Unfortunately, these animals don't live very long or are sterile despite being bigger than both the lion and the tiger. While these animals are cool and unique, they are not strictly natural or sustainable.


12. Bearded Vulture

I don't know about you all, but this vulture reminds me of a phoenix which was initially why I looked into the creature. These vultures inhabit a range of places from southern Europe to the Indian subcontinent, to Tibet. This vulture, like other vultures, typically eats dead animals, although it has been documented that the bearded vulture will attack live prey more often than other vultures.


13. Goblin Shark


This unusual shark is also known as a "living fossil" because they are the last representative of sharks that lived about 125 million years ago. It is a deep sea shark that can grow between 10-13 feet if not longer. The goblin shark has been caught accidentally in every major ocean. The goblin shark is not a fast swimmer and relies on ambushing its prey.


14. Red Panda

This cute, small panda lives in the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. The red panda is rather small, only about the same size as most domestic cats. Its eating habits range from bamboo, to eggs, to insects, and several other small mammals. The red panda is primarily sedentary during the day and at night or in the morning does whatever hunting it needs to do.


15. Blobfish

This blobfish is, in a way, so ugly that it is cute (although reminds me of a certain Pokémon ) This fish lives in the deep waters of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. The blobfish has a density only sightly above that of water. The fish primarily hunts by just floating along and letting creatures wander into its mouth, rather than expending any energy.


16. Leaf Deer

The leaf deer is usually found in dense forests in the northwest region of Putao. The adult leaf deer only stands at about 20 inches high and the males and females are nearly identical except for an inch long horn on the males. It is called a leaf deer because hunters could wrap the deer in a single large leaf.


17. Tiger

While tigers are a more common animal than many others on this list, it is still one of the coolest animals in the world. Tigers are the largest of all cats and once ranged from Russia, to Turkey, to parts of Asia — almost all over the world. These animals are fierce, powerful creatures, although they are on the endangered species list.


18. Narwhals

Narwhals are a species of whale that live in the waters around Greenland, Canada, and Russia. The narwhal's diet changes depending on the time of year: in the spring the narwhal will eat cod, while in the winter the narwhal will eat flatfish. Narwhals can live up to 50 years and most frequently die of suffocation from being trapped under the ice.


19. Cheetah

Cheetahs, while more commonly heard of then some of the other animals on this list, are still incredibly cool. They often inhabit many parts of Africa and Iran. These amazing cats can reach up to 60 miles per hour in three seconds and use their tails to make quick and sudden turns. These amazing cats also have semi-retractable claws which helps with speed. The cheetah, however, doesn't have much besides speed to defend itself.


And finally....


20. Superb Bird of Paradise

This GIF demonstrates the mating dance used by male superb birds of paradise. Typically females reject about 20 mates before selecting one they want to mate with. They are often found in New Guinea although it is unsure just how many of these birds there are. As far as scientists know, the population has remained stable.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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Dear Mother Nature, We're Cold And Ready For Spring!

Where is spring and all the fun, warm weather activities it has to offer?

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It begins to set at the same time of year, around the end of February, the overall frustration with the post-January, pre-spring winter blues. Mornings are dark and cold, nighttime starts at 4 p.m., and the motivation to do anything is just nonexistent. Which brings up the question of where is spring and all the fun, warm weather activities it has to offer?

Come December, the holiday season brings out the love of winter the strongest, everyone is merry, spending time with loved ones, ice skating, drinking hot cocoa, cuddling up to watch movies, and just overall taking advantage of the cold weather. However, the weeks following New Years is when the mood starts to change and happiness begins to plummet people seem to fall into a post-holiday funk and the cold weather sure as hell doesn't help. It seems like the month of January is centuries long, I don't know if it's because it has 31 days or if the cold weather somehow stretches out the month, but making it through January is an accomplishment in itself. January is basically Winter in its own, so when it ends, people are more than ready to shake off the snow and get into some warmer days.

Then, February second rolls around and people are eagerly scoping the news to watch a groundhog predict our fate as they anxiously hope for him to not see his shadow and an early spring arrives at last. At least that is what happened this year. It seems that year after year the groundhog sees his shadow, gets scared, sprints back into his hole and we are left with six more weeks of winter, but this year told a different tale. The groundhog saw his shadow and ultimately it was predicted for an early spring. This prediction alone has sparked warm weather anticipation epically. People went straight to online shopping for bathing suits and shorts, rather than sweaters and boots.

Now, it may just be Virginia's wishy-washy weather but I somehow believe mother nature is playing tricks on us. One day will be 65, the next will snow, the next will rain and be 42, and the next will be 75. I even think the early spring prediction made Valentine's day for singles a little more bearable, because the 15th, the day after Valentine's day, was sunny and in the 60s. So mother nature, when is the inconsistency going to stop?

I think I speak for most when I say that we are ready for some spring weather. Ready for no jackets, shorts, getting in your car without having to clear it off first, longer days, flowers in bloom, and baby animals running around. Not to mention actually enjoying walking places in the warm spring breeze, rather than speed walking bundled up in 5 layers with a wind-chill that chaps up your face. It's something about warm weather that just makes people nicer, and overall puts us in better moods. Even on my most stressful day, if I walk outside and its anywhere above 60 and sunny, I automatically feel at ease.

I am not asking to fast forward to summer I am just ready for some mood enhancing, sunny, spring weather to make its way on over and terminate the winter blues.

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