April 27, 2011 – We Will Never Forget
April 27, 2011 is a day that NO one in Tuscaloosa will ever forget. Through the years, the question has always been asked, "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?", or "Where were you on 9/11?". In Tuscaloosa, the question is, "Where were you on April 27th, 2011?" EVERY Tuscaloosan KNOWS where they were on April 27, 2011.
On the day of the Tornado, I was at home nursing a nasty sinus infection. I had gotten ill the Tuesday before, and was running a high fever. It was the third day in a row I had called in sick to work. Anyone that knows me, knows that I NEVER call in sick. However, my Doctor had ORDERED me to stay home, and let the antibiotics do their thing. I was MISERABLE.
I remember getting up early that day, and watching Television. All the meteorologists were predicting BAD weather throughout the day. An early round of storms had knocked out power in many neighborhoods. But, as the weather folks said, "It's not over yet, there's MORE to come".
I intently watched my Television throughout the day. We were being told to expect the worst. And then, the warnings, and updates were becoming more frequent, until all the TV shows were being preempted by wall to wall weather coverage. Then, shortly after 5, I SAW it on my TV while I was watching James Spann on ABC 33/40. They had a camera shot of a Huge Tornado heading straight toward Tuscaloosa....My Town! Then, I heard the words, "if you live by Skyland Boulevard, get in your safe place." Now, I DO happen to live by Skyland Boulevard, so I was getting NERVOUS. You see, The December 16th, 2000, Tornado actually went through the subdivision where I currently live. There was no subdivision at the time of that tornado. But I can still see the damage she made to the forest, half a block from my house. This Tornado looked like it was heading STRAIGHT for us! So, I told everyone to get in the middle bathroom. We drug a mattress in there, got all the pets, and I had everyone get in the bathtub, ready to pull the mattress overhead for cover. I stayed in the living room watching the Tornado on TV, trying to keep track of the path. THIS is what I saw...
The images were TERRIFYING! That Tornado was HUGE! And even tough I was already sick, I was getting sicker, watching the Tornado as it started tearing a path through town. I kept my eye on the TV, and even though they kept saying "Skyland Boulevard", the Tornado appeared to be going North of me, but heading straight toward the heart of town. Then, a few seconds later, my power went out. However, I still had my battery powered radio, so I was able to LISTEN to James Spann's coverage, without pictures.
A few minutes later, my power was miraculously back on, and I was able to follow the Tornado coverage.....all the way up to Birmingham! After it passed Birmingham, I started getting texts, and Facebook Instant Messages from family and friends from all over. My cousin called me from Chicago and said, "Are you OK? I just saw that your town was hit by a Tornado!" My Parents, & My Sisters, all calling me within minutes. How did they know about the Tornado so fast? Apparently, The Tuscaloosa Tornado had made National News, THAT'S how they knew.
I assured everybody that I was fine. But then, I started seeing pictures of the DEVASTATION....it was heartbreaking! Homes destroyed, cars & trucks tossed, businesses demolished, debris everywhere, and Lives LOST. The images were horrific, sad, and disturbing, ones that NO Tuscaloosan will ever forget. However, what transpired in the AFTERMATH, is something that NO Tuscaloosan will ever forget, either. People coming together to help each other out. Family Members, Co-Workers, Neighbors, and Complete Strangers, all willing to lend a hand, to pick ourselves up, dust each other off, and start the rebuilding and healing process. A process that continues to this day, and a process that makes me PROUD to tell people that I'M FROM TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA!
Indeed, April 27th, 2011 was the worst of days, but it brought out the BEST in all of us. That's why NO Tuscaloosan will EVER forget April 27th, 2011.
GOD BLESS TUSCALOOSA! & ROLL TIDE!