MADISON, Ala. — As May 1 came and went, several hundred thousand people were still without power in Alabama, primarily in the northern half of the state. I write this by candlelight on my 3G-enabled iPad. Isn't technology amazing?
Plenty of annoyances come with having been without power since April 27. No hot showers, canned tuna and a lack of air conditioning are just a few items leading a list that grows longer every day.
That said, individuals have lost their homes, friends, children, siblings, parents, grandparents and associates. For them, our hearts ache. Our inconvenience, though real, is insignificant and pales in comparison to the situation of thousands in our state.
It is interesting to observe how members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have come together in the Huntsville Alabama Stake. The power of home teaching is more evident now than it ever was. I think all home teachers and visiting teachers have questioned the merits of dragging a companion along to visit the same families month after month who never need anything and are always doing fine. The system is perfect, however, and within hours following the disaster, everyone in the Madison 1st Ward had been visited, and resources were quickly pooled and distributed where needed.
What was absolutely fascinating was the way technology was used to keep the church going. Word came to the few of us who still had power in our mobile phones in the form of a text message from the bishop authorizing priesthood holders to prepare and bless the sacrament in our homes. I wondered for a minute if I would have lent the same credence to the message had it been a retweet on a Twitter account.
We were able to gather our Latter-day Saint neighbors for a quick worship service, after which we jumped into our stereotypical Mormon Suburban to haul around everyone who was able to lend a hand with cleanup efforts. It was an ox in the mire situation. With more thunderstorms pending for this week, real, immediate dangers still exist. This disaster has been a testament to the simple power of following the voice of the prophets. Our year's supply has been critical. We are perfectly calm, while word of looting fills the news. I drove by the supermarket nearby, which had no electricity but a long, snaking line through the parking lot of individuals desperate to get any food they possibly could.
My recommendation based on this experience is to look into investing in a power inverter. They are relatively cheap, roughly $30. They can be lifesavers, however, turning a car cigarette lighter connection into a standard three-pronged power outlet. It has minimal use and is not able to power items much larger than a cell phone or laptop computer. But the importance of having a method to communicate has been underscored, and being able to charge your cell phone really is a big deal.
The outpouring of community support is amazing. I lost track of the number of cars parked at the cleanup site of a hard-hit community Monday afternoon. The Southern states are resilient and will bounce back soon.
Joseph Irvine graduated from Utah State University and lives in Madison, Alabama.