Hope Floats!

My name is Xavier Burgin, a film maker / photographer from L. A. and author of this post today on Heel in Mint. 

Today marks the day of our independence, and I’d like to share a story that made me value this country and the spirit which joins us all as Americans…

  Keep Alabama in Your Prayers

Tuscaloosa, Alabama April 27, 2011. The tornado touched down behind Bryant Denny Stadium. It’s a mile wide. Through concrete and glass I heard its shriek. Its dirty and unstable, a far cry from what I’ve seen on TV, yet I’m scared. A tornado never comes this close. I’m not supposed to be the victim. I walked downstairs and sat next to my residents; I’m a dorm resident advisor. Moments before I assured them we were safe. There was nothing to worry about. I felt like a liar, but something else overtook me. I was helpless in the face of destruction. This time it was worse. I wasn’t the one being saved. I was the one who was supposed to be in control. The one responsible for every child huddled together in the halls. I couldn’t bare the truth. If the tornado maintained its course, we would be next. 

  Sectioned off Zone

The next day… Snap! Electrical cords and power lines dip across the vestiges of a once bustling community. Snap! Police officers in dirty uniforms control the direction of traffic while urging onlookers to avoid the broken glass scattered across 15th street. Snap! I stood a few yards across the now defunct road examining the remnants of Mike and Ed’s BBQ. Their welcome sign was so violently bent it touches the yellow lines on the street. Snap! A young man stood over the remains of his 1997 Toyota. I remember the model from my father’s truck. The stench of something dead hits his nose. He throws up. Damn, I missed the shot. I tread to the highest point before 15th dips into devastation. Snap! A tattered flag hung from the remains of a black Hummer crumpled like a discarded wrapper. Flowers crawl from underneath the car. They look like victims crawling from the devastation. An elderly woman rests on a broken beam jutting into her front yard. Two others stare into the remains of a former household. Their roof was the sky. This could’ve been my belongings. My memories. My home. As I frame the scene, adjusting the skyline to highlight the contrast between negative space and the field of flattened houses peppering the landscape, I need to stop… 

Foraging through the wreckage

On April 27th, 2011 Tuscaloosa, AL was hit with a large, violent EF4 tornado that caused 2.2 billion damages and killed sixty-four residents. Still, through the rubble the residents of my home state moved towards rebuilding the day after. It’s the resiliency of America, the way we, as a state, came together to help one another that makes me proud on this day, July 4th, that I’m a citizen of The United States of America. To see more photos go HERE and HERE

Watch the documentary, Portrait of the Storm: Tuscaloosa, AL, I made in commemoration of the event. 


Happy Independence day!  

About the Author –
Xavier Burgin is a filmmaker and photographer currently at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.

Site: http://www.qtlimages.com
Blog: http://www.quethelights.com
Twitter: @XLNB & @QueTheLights
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/quethelights
Instagram: QueTheLights

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

  14 comments for “Hope Floats!

  1. July 5, 2013 at 3:35 am

    Happy Independence Day! 🙂

    XX, IamJenniya
    New Post! >> Give a girl the right shoes…

    • July 6, 2013 at 4:00 pm

      Happy Independence day to you too! 🙂

  2. July 5, 2013 at 9:10 am

    What a touching story. In times of need the citizens of the US definitely come together. I went through Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and it’s something I never want to experience again. There were so many nice and helpful people. Their generosity will never be forgotten.

    • July 6, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      I agree with you. People do come together during times like these. Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts. I can’t imagine what you went through but I’m glad you are ok. Hope you are enjoying your weekend 🙂

  3. July 5, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    It’s a very sad feeling to know the devastation caused by the mother nature caused or in any part of the world, the best thing in these difficult situation is the ONENESS and UNITY and the support given to one another as a human being is truly amazing and awesome. HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY.

  4. July 6, 2013 at 2:03 am

    Big thank you to Heel In Mint for allowing me to share my story!

    Que The Lights

    • July 6, 2013 at 4:00 pm

      A big thank you for sharing your experience and story with us Xavier! It’s painful to see all that destruction but it’s amazing to see people come together to help each other out during times like these. Have a wonderful July 4th weekend 🙂

  5. July 9, 2013 at 1:48 am

    What a great introduction, I love hearing uplifting stories – I had no idea about this tornado and would love to see the documentary!


  6. July 9, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    thanks for your lovely comment, your blog is great!
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  7. July 10, 2013 at 1:35 am

    Thank you for sharing this story. Time and time again, it is heartwarming to hear about the resiliency of Americans through these types of incidents!

    Chic ‘n Cheap Living

    • July 11, 2013 at 1:11 am

      I agree… It is heart warming. Thanks so much for the comments. Hope you have a wonderful week 🙂

  8. July 11, 2013 at 12:10 am

    What a heartbreaking story… I kind of know the feeling because we lived through storm Sandy. It was probably the scariest night of my life… and everything after the storm. Those kind of things we just see on TV and think they would never happen to us. Bur they do… I am glad you are OK. Let’s hope nobody will have to go through anything like that ever! Thank you for your post.
    hugs from New York,
    Ask Erena

    • July 11, 2013 at 1:08 am

      You’re so right about the “it won’t happen to us” part. My sisters and mom were involved in a scary bus accident once and I was shaken by the fact that it hit my family. I guess life is unpredictable that way. Hope is the only thing we can lean on to give us inner strength. It is scary to go through incidents like these. Hope you have a wonderful week 🙂

  9. July 11, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    definitely a very touching story. even for someone who has seen the States only from TV or via Internet. disasters like that are really scary because you just can’t do absolutely anything to change things.. they just happen and you have to deal with it. a real challenge.

    Maikeni blogi – part of me

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