Shelter from the Storm





I closed my store, the Grove Oak Store, way out in the middle of nowhere today because of the threat of severe weather. We here in North Alabama are no stranger to tornado outbreaks. Just like all over the state, we know the threat is real.

As self appointed mayor of my small town, I have been working for over a year to raise awareness and funding for a tornado shelter here in my small hometown.

I was told it would take $100,000, and so far, I’ve got $400.

Someone told me yesterday that I look tired. I guess I am tired. I guess I’m tired of not being listened to. I guess I’m tired of being blown off.

We know a tornado is bound to hit Grove Oak again. One destroyed my father’s house when I was a child,here in Grove Oak, and there have been several since then that have wreaked havoc on this small mountain farming community.

Out here, to the best of my knowledge, Grove Oak has 1,200 residents. Hey, we matter.

And it’s not a matter of “if” a tornado will do damage again, it’s a matter of “when.” This we know. This I know.

For years I have volunteered to help clean up debris, deliver survival supplies to victims, cook and cry with those effected by Mother Nature’s fury. For years I have been a safety and preparedness advocate, speaking out on the importance of preparing for the storms.

I have spoken to the county’s Emergency Management Agency multiple times about this issue. I have hosted a fund raising concert to try to come up with the funds. I have asked our state representative recently for help.

I take it seriously and have the land to put it on, thanks to the local fire chief.

So, how do we get things done when we’ve been working for years with no results?

Maybe I am tired, but I sleep well knowing I have done everything in my ability to prepare for the worst here in my home town and for my home town.

If a tornado wipes us off the map today, I’ll help with the clean up. I’ll hold your hand. And even though I may be tired, I won’t give up.

Jamie Godwin



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