When Fredonia residents Brian Woods and Judi Lutz Woods took their grandchildren Brianne, 9, and Jordan, 5, on a 15-day train trip, they never expected to see the major destruction caused by a line of strong tornados in the South.
Brian and Judi had purchased railroad passes that allowed them to travel 15 days anywhere in the United States. They and their grandchildren had enjoyed a trip that took them out west and through about 20 states. They had visited places such as the Grand Canyon; Tuscon, Arizona; and Albuquerque, New Mexico. The children made themselves at home on the train, playing with other children and meeting interesting people.
The travelers were at the end of their trip in New Orleans. They had planned to travel to Chicago and then home. However, the train to Chicago was cancelled because of flooding in Illinois.
Looking for an alternate route led them to a train that was the first one through Tuscaloosa after the tornado there caused at least 32 deaths and hundreds of injuries. The destruction was overwhelming.
Judi took videos and some pictures.
"I couldn't stop crying," said Judi.
Photo by Judi Lutz-Woods
Examples of the destruction in the Tuscaloosa area. Pictures were taken from inside the train by Fredonia resident Judi Lutz Woods.
"There were younger adults on the train trying to get to Tuscaloosa to help their families. There were also people who got on the train who had lost most of their possessions and were traveling to stay elsewhere."
Brianne told her, "Grandma I've got to do something." Brianne wanted to collect money on the train, but Judi counseled her to wait until they got home since some of the people on the train were themselves victims.
Brianne helped her grandma with a bake sale for Haiti and recently operated a lemonade stand for a day to benefit the victims of the earthquake in Pakistan. Judi lives near the college and Brianne set up her stand there, drawing business from kind-hearted college students as well as others in Fredonia. Another lemonade stand just might be the way to raise money for this disaster.
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