It's been 3 weeks since a tornado tore through my hometown. This is my account of what I went through on Saturday, April 24 around 10:20 p.m. Tornado sirens warned us, as well as the local news stations. A tornado was heading straight toward Albertville. We've heard this before. The weathercasters see something on their radar "indicating" that a tornado might be there. Well, this time it was. It went right over us or right by us, I'm not sure which. What I do know is that our power suddenly shut off, and shortly afterward, the wind picked up & didn't stop for what seemed like 5 minutes. I know that it was only about 25 seconds, and my son, Chase said, "It sounds like a freight train!" He had gotten into the bedroom closet, and I was closely behind. My husband, Kevin, was across the room trying to put the window up. He decided to join us just as the wind slowly died down. My heart was racing, and I was shaking. I quickly updated my Facebook status on my phone by saying, "I think a tornado just passed over us!" Looking out the front door, we saw our motorcycle lying on its side. It looked like it could be mangled. It was hard to see in the dark. We found the flashlight & shone it outside. There was things up in the power lines & all around the yard. When the rain died down, we walked outside. Chase went around to the side of the house and yelled for us to come see. As we walked around the corner, a huge root system faced us. Chase said, " I knew I smelled tree!" It was from the gigantic oak that stood RIGHT BESIDE OUR HOUSE!! Luckily it had fallen at an angle, away from our house! It was a good thing, too, because it was so close to the room that we sought shelter in! We could hear our neighbors coming out of their homes and yelling to each other to make sure everyone was okay. And then we smelled it. There was a gas leak from and unrooted tree down the road. We turned off the gas at our meter. In the dark, we began to notice that there were trees all through our neighborhood. The house next door had a tree ON it! A few houses down across the street a tree had taken off the whole front of one house. There was a tree across our road, and there were also power lines down everywhere. It was surreal, like a war zone. I'll never forget it.
Having Facebook on my BlackBerry was my only source of information. People began posting about places that had gotten hit, including our high school and middle school. There was so much being said on there that I began to not take a lot of stock in it until I could see for myself. We walked down to the end of our street in total disbelief at the destruction. Rescue workers were going door-to-door checking on people. I had high school friends on Facebook that had moved away that were worried about their families. One asked if we could check on her parents that lived on another street down from me. But, it was impossible because of all the downed trees & power lines. It was such a helpless feeling. We got back to our home and sat in the dark trying to comprehend what had just happened. We decided to try to get some sleep, not know what Sunday morning would hold. We went to sleep to the sound of chainsaws all around our city.
Sunday morning we awoke pretty early. I was a bit afraid to see what the daylight would show. We got up & decided to walk around town. We live very close to downtown & to the high school & middle school. A tree that had blocked our road the night before had been cleared. Other than that there was destruction everywhere. Other people were out walking, as we were, to see what damage had been done. There were so many tree just uprooted. Unfortunately, some were lying on houses & on cars. There were no power lines left, & most of the power poles were gone, also. No doubt, we were going to be without power for quite some time. I live just off of "Million Dollar Avenue", which was hit VERY hard. What once was a quaint, shaded street with beautiful houses now looked like a construction site. All the shade was gone! You could see all over town from points that you never could before. The mobile units that were the temporary classrooms at our high school were crushed, flipped on their sides, and a few were even turned upside down! Thank God this didn't happen during the school day. The kids wouldn't have been in those during a tornado warning, but with all the new high school construction, there was limited space for them to all take shelter. Many of the older buildings on campus had damage. Huge light posts at our new stadium had fallen. One fell directly onto the bleachers & smashed them in.
I could go on and on about the destruction because it was everywhere we looked. The one thing that was amazing about all this is that there were no deaths, and just a few injuries. Praise God for that!
We went without power for a full week. Our cable tv & Internet was restored 4 days later. And, just today, we got a new central heating & air unit. (Ours was destroyed when the tree was uprooted right beside it). The wall of tree debris piles that lined my road was finally cleared this week. Things are slowly getting back to normal, but I'm not sure they will ever be the way they were before. It will take many years for the landscape of this city to be restored to its pre-tornado glory. But, life goes on. We take it one day at a time. That's all we can do.
Here's a video that someone put together. It says it all...