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Tornadoes shake but strengthen us

One of my very earliest memories is of being maybe 3 years old, huddled with my family under a large piece of furniture for protection from the threat of a tornado.

We lived in Huntsville at the time, right here in Alabama’s tornado alley. Thankfully that storm turned out – as so many fortunately do – to be not-so-serious, and everyone weathered the weather all right.

Our friends to the south in Beauregard were not so fortunate earlier this month.

Unless you live under a rock, you know all about the deadly EF-4 tornado that took the lives of 23 Lee Countians March 3. I’m not here to recap the details.

I lived in Lee County for seven years – four as a college student at Auburn University and three more while my husband finished his undergrad and then earned a master’s degree. There were plenty of tornado watches and warnings during my time living and working in Lee. Most of the time they fizzled out to nothing. A few power lines down, maybe. Tree branches whipped to the ground, sure.

But nothing, nothing like what Beauregard saw a week and a half ago.

I worked for two years at the Opelika Observer newspaper, which covered all of Lee County, particularly the City of Opelika and the southern and eastern parts of the county. So I’m no stranger to Beauregard.

With it being such a rural area, though, it’s not as familiar to folks outside of Lee County. Friends in north Alabama have asked me, “Oh, is everyone you know in Auburn OK after the tornado?”

Like the difference between Russellville and Phil Campbell, the difference between Auburn and Beauregard is noteworthy.

But if folks had never heard of Beauregard before March 3, 2019, they probably have now. Reminiscent of how the 2011 tornado put Phil Campbell on the map, this tornado has put Beauregard on the map.

It’s a connection Phil Campbell has made, anyway. I couldn’t help but smile when I ran across the photo shared on Phil Campbell High School’s Facebook page, emblazoned at the top: “Let’s pay it forward PC!”

“Our community was blessed with donations in 2011 when the tornado hit our town,” the flier reads. “Now let’s help the victims in Lee County affected by the tornado on Sunday, March 3.”

PCHS’ National Honor Society and National Junior Honor Society clubs are accepting donations through March 22 to help our east-central Alabama friends – all kinds of donations, from non-perishable food items, coats and clothing, to toiletries, paper products, pet supplies and, of course, monetary donations.

Doesn’t it make your heart happy to hear of someone paying it forward in this way? It’s like Mr. Fred Rogers’ always told him: Look for the helpers.

If you’ve been looking for a way to be a helper to Beauregard, consider helping Phil Campbell pay it forward.

It’s times like these, when our days seem the darkest, that we remember to turn to each other and lean on each other for support. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.” –Ecclesiastes 4:9