The two-year anniversary of a devastating tornado outbreak in Alabama is just around the corner.
On April 27, 2011, lives and landscapes were changed by the powerful storms that swept across Cullman County, Tuscaloosa, and other portions of north Alabama.
An oral history of the tornado that devastated Tuscaloosa and the surrounding area is planned April 27 at the Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum. The exhibit, “Listening to the Storm: A Natural Disaster in Retrospective,” is a collection of firsthand accounts of responders, volunteers and survivors of the tornado.
Tornadoes have long been a destructive force in the South, but emergency workers worry that residents become complacent as watches and warnings come and go with limited amounts of damage. In fact, many tornado seasons had passed without the type of destruction experienced in 2011.
The fury of the 2011 storms serves as a reminder that preparedness is the greatest safeguard for human life. Weather radios, storm shelters and alert systems have reached new levels of sophistication that can prevent or reduce injuries and death. But the technology that warns of approaching storms must be taken seriously to be effective.
The oral history presentation in Tuscaloosa, and the stories that have been published in Cullman, are also reminders of the power of people to make a difference in difficult times.
As the tornado season comes into place, remember to establish a family emergency plan. Keep your weather radios working and follow closely reports of approaching storms. Remember, too, the great show of character that emerged in Cullman County as soon as the tornadoes left the area. Those moments established a lasting foundation for moving forward and should not be forgotten.