News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Empathy for Katrina victims easy to find

We here in the Tennessee Valley have taken our share of tornado hits over the years, but North Alabama is too far away for hurricanes to give us their best shot.

Thus, before Monday night, most of our experiences with these giant storms came as the concerned neighbors looking in on the Gulf Coast region, South Florida or Atlantic Seaboard when one struck.

If the noise outside your bedroom happened to get you up between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. Tuesday, you experienced a portion of the wind velocity that hit the Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana coasts Monday. By the time Hurricane Katrina reached the Tennessee Valley, however, it was a mere tropical storm that still drove raindrops with the power of a nailgun.

The sustained winds of more than 30 mph and gusts of up to 60 mph were enough to knock down trees, break tree limbs, interrupt power and scatter objects not secured.

Locally, municipal and county crews were quick to clear streets and roads and get electricity restored early Tuesday after the eye of the storm swept to the west of North Alabama.

So, while we assess and repair the comparatively light wind and water damage here, our thoughts are really with the neighbors along the Gulf Coast where Katrina came ashore with 145 mph winds strong enough to rip off the outer layer of the Superdome roof in New Orleans.

The storm damage is in the billions of dollars; the death total steadily climbs higher than the early report of 55 casualties.

Yet, as bad as the hurricane damage is, the destruction could have been much worse. If the storm hadn't veered slightly to miss the heart of New Orleans ... If its intensity hadn't decreased before making landfall ... If Katrina had not continued to wane as the storm came north ....

Don't forget, many organizations, such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army, stand ready to help the storm victims. Your contributions to these charities help greatly.

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