Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Welcome to the new normal in Tuscaloosa

I walked toward a man standing over a used Toyota wrenched in two. He kneeled over the car as the stench of something dead wafted from the confines of the backseat. Snap!

Mike and Ed’s BBQ sign was so bent, the edges of its border touched the yellow line dashed across the nearest street. Snap!

As I walked toward the top of 15th Street before it dipped into the main devastation, I saw an infinite amount of space. I could clearly define the symmetrical lines entailing DCH in contrast to the flattened houses dotting 15th. Snap!

I steadied my camera. I wanted to highlight the contrast between negative space and the wreckage flowing across the landscape. Snap!

Backing away from the viewfinder, I felt as if I was simultaneously writing and experiencing verses etched in a peculiar story.

I watched from the confines of my dorm as the tornado pulsed toward Bryant-Denny Stadium. A few minutes earlier, I assured my residents the storm would be a routine pass and go. From the fourth floor, I saw a tunnel entrenched upon the land barreling towards the campus. When I should’ve been contemplating the merits of a silent prayer, all I could think about was how adeptly I assured my residents everything would be alright. At this point, I just considered myself a liar.

To think the tornado would make such a drastic turn is a memory intertwined in guilty relief. Nature has a strict policy of inconsiderate gambles. It secures victims in the same manner humans indulge in Russian roulette.

When everything ends, our lives may be like a movie fading to black, but many residents of Tuscaloosa were given a few extra moments from the throngs of a disaster that could’ve been far worse.

As students slowly poured back into Tuscaloosa, they were greeted by suspended animation, the new normal. They happened upon a 15th Street with a skyline reaching towards downtown.

The Chevron at the main intersection has been completely paved away. CVS and Regions now operate out of RVs like those your grandparents use for cross-country road trips. Krispy Kreme is gone. Hobby Lobby is gone. Alberta City’s main entrance thrusts you into a Mad Max-esque delusion where the wrangles of destitution and delirium have bent the landscape into a convoluted hell.

The citizens of Tuscaloosa live in a broken residence. A house with all the characteristics of an abode yet stripped of proper humanity.

Students found themselves in the grasp of our city’s reality with a broken innocence. It was the same feeling I retained as I stood with my camera, photographing the carnage a day after the tornado. It was the same feeling I accepted as I began to shoot footage documenting the storm three weeks later. It’s the same genuine discomfort we all fight with when we remember where we were during the tornado.

Welcome to the new normal. The new beginning that never ended. Tuscaloosa survived, but would anyone argue pieces of our soul still rest within April 27th?


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