Friday, April 27, 2012

One Year Ago

You can ask anyone where they were and what they were doing on September 11th 2001 and they can remember everything about that day. 
This is the way I feel about April 27th 2011
 I can't believe it has been a year
I can still recall pretty much every detail of that day
It was the scariest day that I have experienced..ever
April 27th 2011 will be a day I will remember for the rest of my life

For those who don't remember, 
62 tornadoes claimed the lives of 252 Alabamians 
It started at 6am with straight line winds that brought many trees down at my house
We lost power during the morning storm and didn't get it back for a week.

We spent most of the morning and lunch time cleaning up our yard. 
Thankfully, our house didn't have any damage
I remember looking on the computer and seeing the distress the weathermen were saying the afternoon storms were going to be deadly. The tornado scale's highest number is 10 and they were saying they were getting reports of 14 for the afternoon. We decided to go eat a late lunch(2ish) and get prepared for the afternoon storms. On our way home from eating (3:00)we heard on the radio there was a tornado on the ground in Cullman (the county next to ours) and the warnings never stopped till late that night. 

This video has a lot of pictures and information: here

I remember around 5pm we went to the basement because the town next to ours Blountsville had reports of a tornado. Take into mind we were out of power so we were relying on the radio to get all our information. We stayed in the basement for a long time to learn the tornado did touch down in Blountsville creating damage but moved out of the way of Susan Moore. 

While all this was going on, little did I know Tuscaloosa was quickly becoming the town I wouldn't recognize. After going to school there, I consider Tuscaloosa my second home. I still had an apartment and my best friend/roommate still lived down there. 
I heard on the radio that Tuscaloosa was under a tornado warning, but after living there and knowing Tuscaloosa is a hot spot for tornado warnings I didn't think it would actually do damage. I think we all were immune to warnings. I called my best friend/roommate and said, I heard there is a tornado warning for Tuscaloosa, where are you? she said she was eating on the strip which is right beside the campus. So we ended the conversation and kept listening to the radio. Then James Spann (our Bham weatherman) said there is a violent wedge tornado on the ground in Tuscaloosa if you are at the campus of the University of Alabama you need to take shelter now. I immediately called Emily again and she said they were standing outside the restaurant and could see the tornado and they were being instructed to get into the freezer of the restaurant. I became really scared once again.

 The tornado warning for my county was now over so my family had moved back up into the house and I will never forget the words that I heard. I came into the room to let everyone know Emily had seen the tornado and she was taking shelter and everyone went silent as they a reporter began speaking over the radio. He said "I am in Tuscaloosa on 15th street and everywhere I look it's gone." My heart stopped. My apartment was on 15th street close to where he said he was standing. he started naming businesses that we frequent stops for me and my friends and he said there was nothing left standing. I immediately tried calling Emily again and no phone would call out. I tried for 20 mins before I finally got her to answer and she only talked a minute and told me to call her family to tell them she was okay. She said I heard It is really bad, I am trying to get back to the apartment now. I was relieved to know she was okay, but still felt so upset. 

See the Tuscaloosa tornado here
This was filmed on the campus of UA

To try and make this a shorter story.. the apartment was okay, the tornado missed it by maybe a football field. Of course there was a lot of damage to the lot, but it was still standing. I never imagined that Tuscaloosa looked as bad as it really was. Everything from my apartment to the intersection was totally gone. Emily said she had to park a mile away from the apartment and had to walk due to power lines down and unbelievable damage. She said it was like she was in an apocalypse. She said there was debris all in the roads, people were just walking around trying to help and find their belongings in the ruins of their homes. She said there was screaming, crying and people calling out for their loved ones. 
This was just one of the 55 tornados. There was so much destruction in Alabama.

Minutes after the tornado
What that street looks like now

The days after were spend trying to find the missing. There were close to 500 missing in Tuscaloosa alone. The morning after these storms, reports were coming in off all the destruction. They were saying they were bringing in portable morgues to take bodies because there were so many. I broke down Tuesday morning and cried for a long time. I was still scared and at the time no one knew how the death toll. Cell phone service was still spotty because so many towers were down. Day after day, people start cleaning up and the missing number went down.

Today, one year later people are still sensitive to talk about that day. So many people have a story of actually being in the storm. Tuscaloosa's 15th street is just now a long road of vacant lots. A few businesses are starting to rebuild. The Tuscaloosa I once knew is no longer the same. 

You can read more about each tornado and see more pictures here
I found this picture in my college file. I trying to get the picture of the billboard of Bama winning the national championship in 09. Who would have known everything in the picture is no longer standing.

If you live in Alabama, do you remember where you were on this day?  


Paige said...

Started the day at school and we had an early release at 12:00 PM. I was sitting on my couch watching James Spann on ABC 33/40 when it hit Tuscaloosa. We have lots of young alum attending the University and I was in shock watching the TV screen not knowing where our kids were. Quickly my phone became the hub of activity with texts, tweets, Facebook posts and calls from our kids at Auburn, UAB and out of state schools asking if we had heard from all our UA kids. It was a scary, scary day! Still praying for my sweet home Alabama!

Kristin B said...

Goosebumps!! How scary...

Heather said...

This post gave me chills. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was at work the whole day, and watched the news nonstop while we worked. I still think about T-town and that scary day.

Melissa Jo said...

I'll never forget this day, it was one of the most stressful days of my life trying to track down my friends and family. Watching the storm on tv from Auburn and not getting a hold of anyone.

Melissa Blake said...

Thinking of you... xoxo

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

How SCARY! I remember seeing the coverage on the Today Show and my jaw was just dropped.