Where are the words to describe the winter of 2010? The ravages have been relentless and Huntsville has been battered. January 23rd, a tornado traveled down Oakwood Avenue and ripped through Five Points. Right at 100 homes were damaged.
February 5th, a gun was pulled, shots fired, and a fourteen-year-old middle-school student was dead. School shootings were no longer somebody else's problem. It touched us all, and even as we asked why, the community came together to grieve, and do what had to be done to make sure that never happened again in our schools, to our children and our community.
As the community grieved, once more a gun was pulled and bullets fired. This time it was at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, UAH. Three faculty members were dead, one was in critical condition, and two others wounded. A neuroscientist with a Harvard PhD pulled the trigger. She along with those she was arrested for shooting were among the bright and shining stars in Huntsville's rapidly growing biotechnology sector. The loss of these lives has devastated families, and sent waves of shock throughout the entire scientific community.
As if that wasn't enough, February 1st brought the announcement of the proposed 2011 Federal Budget, which, if accepted by Congress will bring the cancellation of the Constellation Projects, on which over 2500 people in the Huntsville area work.
That one reaches much further though. Workers from across the nation, engineers, blue collar and while collar alike, machinists, welders, plant workers, sewing machine operators, technicians, office workers and a whole lot more, all have jobs supporting Constellation. The mission of Constellation was to design and build the nation's next fleet of spacecraft. Ares was the flagship. The ultimate decision is for Congress, but that in no way negates the impact on this community or this nation as it awaits the final word on Ares.
As the shocks continued, Mother Nature has been relentless. The snows fell, and time after time the community has been ravaged. It is not however an end, many times over it has been written that Huntsville is a great city. That distinction was hard won through good times and bad. But even as they ask why, the citizens of Huntsville come together in community to see to their own, to overcome the hardships of nature, the challenges handed down from a very bad economy, and to heal from the wounds of a very long winter.
For more information on what is being done, the latest updates, what you can do, or how to cope see:
- Discovery Middle School Tragedy Task Force was formed to analyze and make recommendations for School System Diverse Community Group to focus on security and communication.
- MagicStream.org provides Resources for Teachers on confronting issues, conflict and emotion in the classroom.
- Al.com is providing full coverage of the UAH shooting
SpaceRef.com covers space news as it happens.
- Homer Hickam wrote a new short story about America's post-NASA future.
- "Save NASA's Constellation and Manned Space Flight Program" -- An 18,000 member and growing Facebook community.
- The "Save Constellation" video was put together by a member of the Ares I-X team who wanted to pay tribute and make known the contributions of the Ares team.