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Riding the Storms Out On A Frightful Day in Alabama

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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

We have plenty to write this morning about justice issues, our usual area of focus here at Legal Schnauzer. But we don't have the heart for that subject today, just hours after at least 63 people were killed and untold numbers of homes were damaged or destroyed by the tornadoes that ripped through Alabama yesterday.

I am thankful to be able to report that Mrs. Schnauzer and I--and our Tonks, Baxter and Chloe--are fine. We've had relatively minor property damage from storms several times in the 20-plus years we've lived in our home. But we somehow managed to not have any damage yesterday, even though it probably was the worst string of tornadoes to hit our area in 30 to 50 years.

We live in Shelby County, about 15 miles from downtown Birmingham. One twister passed through Alabaster, about 10 miles to our south. There was devastation in parts of North Birmingham and west Jefferson County, especially in the areas of Smithfield, Hueytown, and Concord. Tuscaloosa, home to the University of Alabama, and Cullman also were heavily hit.

Damage assessments are ongoing, so it's hard to know how yesterday's destruction compares to that from previous tornado outbreaks. But it clearly was a storm of historic proportions. Why were we spared? Did The Big Meteorologist in the Sky, knowing that we have been enduring legal storms for 10-plus years, decide to give us a pass on this one?

I don't have the answer to such cosmic questions. I just know that we have hugely mixed feelings--thankful to have gone unscathed, while sharing the pain of many Alabamians who were not so fortunate.

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Even members of our "household" who don't live in our house seem to be fine. A mother robin has taken a liking to the underside of our deck as a nesting place for the past two springs. We watched in fascination  last April as three of her charges left the nest, hit the ground and safely entered the world of flight--as we kept an eye out for any cats or other intruders that might cause problems.

Mrs. Robin is back this year--we assume it's the same mom--and she's been sitting on the nest for a couple of weeks or so now. We haven't seen any little heads sticking up yet, but we expect to see them any day now. I went out to check on her this morning, and she was there, her nest no worse for wear. So the storms apparently will not disrupt the flight training that we've been looking forward to for weeks now.

The storm actually did us one favor. We had a dead tree in our backyard, probably in bad shape because it's too close to a neighboring pine tree, and it's been leaning for a while. The winds were enough to knock it to the ground, where it landed without doing any damage. So we even lucked out on that front.

Our power was out for about four hours, and our Internet service was interrupted a time or two. That, plus the fact we were expecting to have to run to the basement at any moment, is the reason the world was not treated to a Legal Schnauzer  post yesterday. So we had to endure nothing more than minor inconveniences. As for the lack of a Schnauzer post . . . well, some people might welcome more storms if they knew that would be one of the aftereffects.

Do I have anything profound to say after our brush with Mother Nature's wrath? Well, if you use the word "profound" loosely, it might be this: It seems that most suffering has one of three causes--natural events, accidents, and human meanness.

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Storms, earthquakes, and other natural events always will be with us--but man has become remarkably adept at limiting their damage. Thanks to modern weather forecasting and communications techniques, we had plenty of advanced warning about yesterday's storms. Without that, I'm guessing the death total would have been at least twice as large.

Accidents also will always be with us. As long as there are humans, there will be mistakes and screw ups caused by our inattention and misjudgments. But we also have learned to limit their damage. Scientists study these things and have made significant strides in figuring how how to avoid injuries caused by accidents. Here in Birmingham, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has an Injury Control Research Center. On the national level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta has a center devoted to injury control.

But what about human meanness? Are we incapable of coming to grips with that, limiting the havoc it wreaks? I'm not optimistic about that one. This blog chronicles the actions of numerous judges, lawyers, and individuals who have acted corruptly in our justice system, heaping major damage on their fellow human travelers. Like Mrs. Schnauzer and me, quite a few of these bad actors probably were fortunate to escape major damage in yesterday's storms. Did that cause any of them to stop for a moment, count their blessings, and vow to change their ways? I doubt it. Were many of them right back to their underhanded ways this morning? Probably so.

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)

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