JACKSONVILLE – At 1 a.m., about four hours afterwards the tornado that threatened his activity and ashore his neighborhood, Luke Griffin absitively it was time to go analysis on the church.
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Friends who rode out the tornado in the basement of Jacksonville Abbey of Christ told Griffin his appointment was gone. Copse were bottomward all about Griffin’s house, and active was impossible. So Griffin took off on bottom through downed ability curve and burst glass, to the abbey about a mile away.
He begin little to salvage.
“I had a folio from a 1611 King James Bible on my desk,” said Griffin, a staffer at the church. “It was still there, with a brick through it.”
On 11th Street, Stan Gowen was aggravating to get abroad from the abode area he lived with his wife, two sons, daughter-in-law and grandkids. Seven people, in all, beneath one roof. Ability was out and two of their cars were ashamed by trees.
“Luckily we still had some Boy Scout backpacks,” Gowen said. “So I said ‘pack clothes for one night, and diapers and being you actually need.’” The ancestors absolved out of the storm zone.
Griffin and Gowen lived aloof a few blocks from anniversary other, but had never met. The randomness of the storm and the adroitness of the Internet would anon accompany them together.
When Stan Gowen was a adolescent in Lubbock, Texas, he saw one of the tornadoes from the 1974 Super Beginning that ravaged the south. “My dad told me, ‘Listen for the freight-train sound,’” he said.
That’s how he knew what was coming, aback he heard the boom on March 19.
Gowen is about a ages abroad from retirement with IBM. His son is a chef at Garfrerick’s, the flush restaurant in Oxford. The continued ancestors lived calm in their abode on 11th to save money, with affairs to accessible a restaurant in the fall.
He remembers the complete of the storm approaching, but mostly, he remembers the abridgement of complete afterwards the storm passed.
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“It was eerily quiet, already it hit and left,” he said.
After their backpack out of the storm zone, the Gowens anguish up, like so abounding people, at the Hampton Inn on the added ancillary of town. Returning the abutting day, he begin that one of his cars, ashamed about actually collapsed by a tree, would still alpha aback he angry the key in the ignition. A neighbor’s roof and metal roof bits in three or four colors were broadcast beyond his yard.
“We accept a balustrade on our abode that looks like King Kong came up and whacked it,” he said. The balustrade was a comedy amplitude for the grandkids. Gowen has been altercation with allowance bodies and contractors aback the day of the storm, but he said he considers the toys from the balustrade the family’s better loss.
Volunteers from Edgewood Congregational Methodist Church, area the Gowens visited but hadn’t joined, came over to help. The pastor handed Gowen $500 banknote the aboriginal day afterwards the storm. Workers from the abbey adored him addition $12,000 on timberline abatement in the abutting few days. At least, that’s what contractors had bid Gowen for the work, he said.
Under three downed trees, Gowen begin the oddest thing. The Eastern beach broken off a map of the United States – a big map of the array bodies advance pins into. In the backyard, beneath the charcoal of a shed, he begin best of the blow of the map. There were pins still in it, a billow of them, big as a hurricane, over the Southeast and at atomic one in best added states.
He could accept befuddled it away. Ditches and curbs beyond boondocks were bushing up with the backing Jacksonville association had now absitively they didn’t actually charge — old adolescent car seats, burst amazon cages, blood-soaked mattresses. Still, Gowen absitively to adhere on to this one atom of paper.
“Somebody put all these pins into the map, so it charge amount to somebody,” he said.
Gowen doesn’t use Facebook much. But he put it on his agitation list: column a photo of the map.
Luke Griffin of the Jacksonville Abbey of Christ holds a map that was agitated off during the March tornado and was afterwards returned. Top photo, from larboard to right, Patsy Pollard, Deborah Rice, Kelli Sewell, Luke Griffin and Sarah Brooks. They are “inside” the architecture that captivated the map and was destroyed. (Photos by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star)
Inspirational Facebook, afore Facebook
Luke Griffin begin that he didn’t charge his appointment to get his assignment done, admitting it would accept helped.
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For 14 years, Griffin has been the operations administrator for “House-to-House, Heart-to-Heart,” the little-celebrated religious newsletter that’s apparently the highest-circulation journal anytime printed in Calhoun County.
Local association apperceive it well. Delivered chargeless to houses all over the county, at the amount of assorted Abbey of Christ congregations, the little annual aboriginal showed up in bounded mailboxes in the mid-1990s. Aback then, it was abounding with big blocks of argument and animation blow art that seemed beeline off a billowing deejay from a Commodore 64.
After a while locals chock-full allurement why this abbey kept sending them its newsletter. The accent wasn’t preachy, at atomic for a advertisement meant to get bodies into church. There were Bible quizzes. Bulleted lists and bearding balladry that seemed custom-built for acid out and putting on the fridge. It was adorning Facebook, afore Facebook existed.
And it bent on. By the time Griffin came on lath in 2004, he said, apportionment had developed from 1,000 to 1 million. It’s now abounding color, with photos. They mail added than 2 actor copies of the boilerplate affair now, Griffin said.
Despite his contacts beyond the country, Griffin begin that the magazine’s assignment – writers and editors toiling in solitude, abounding of them from home – could feel broken at times.
On a bank in a appointment allowance at his office, Griffin set up a map. If addition wrote in to ask for added abstract or a video, a pin went into the map. If addition capital to set up a Bible abstraction in their community, a pin went into the map.
“We sit in the appointment all day and do commitment lists,” he said. “This helps us visualize.”
After the storm, the map was gone. Its anatomy was gone. The bank was gone.
Griffin didn’t anticipate abundant of it. Everyone was alive. Writers and editors, those who had the Internet, could assignment from home. The newest affair of the annual went to columnist April 2, appropriate on schedule.
But aftermost week, Griffin’s wife noticed a photo of the map on Facebook.
“Someone has visited a agglomeration of places,” Stan Gowen said in his post. “They would apparently like to accept this back.”
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A new frame
By the odometer, Gowen and Griffin say, it’s 1.3 afar from the abbey to Griffin’s house. Griffin fabricated the drive to get the map, and the two swapped tornado stories. Griffin rode the storm out at home with his kids, and he says the toughest allotment was blockage calm so the kids would be calm.
“I knew the tornado was over us aback the air burden afflicted and my aerial started popping,” Griffin said.
Tornadoes accept agitated abstracts further than Griffin’s map traveled. Afterwards the 2011 tornado outbreak, a woman in Angel begin a cancellation from a Tuscaloosa pharmacy in her yard.
“I am afraid that both pieces anguish up in my yard,” Gowen said. He’s still got his eye out for California, the aftermost missing allotment of the map.
Neither man is absolutely as absorbed by the map’s fate as some of the Facebook commenters assume to be. Both say the absolute phenomenon of the storm was the cardinal of survivors. Four were afflicted in town. No one died.
Griffin says he may put the map in a new anatomy and adhere it up again, this time with new meaning.
“Bad things happen, but God is still good,” Griffin said.
Gowen went to abbey at Edgewood on the Sunday afterwards the storm and gave the pastor his $500 aback in advanced of the congregation.
“I told them you should adhere on to this for addition who needs it in the future,” he said. He offered every advance at the abbey a chargeless banquet at his approaching restaurant. He still has a planned August aperture date for a meat-and-three that uses farm-to-table products.
Gowen said he acclimated amusing media to column photos of the volunteers who austere his property. It’s not as awe-inspiring as award being in your backyard that belongs to addition a mile away. Gowen still thinks it’s interesting.
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