Voices of the Storm


  Photography by Liesa Cole, Written by Sarah O’Donnell 

When the tornadoes of April 27 hit our state and region, the conversation of the city changed. The storms were all we could talk about—the devastation, the sorrow, the miracles of recovery, redemption and hope. We decided the best way to capture the drama and meaning of those fateful hours would be to listen in on the thoughts, feelings and words of the people who lived the experience…victims, rescuers and the volunteers assisting in the recovery that has only just begun. On the pages that follow, you will find their stories.

 

Josh Lowe and his son 2 month old son Tucker

 

Joshua Lowe: Pleasant Grove

 

You Could Feel the House Being Ripped Apart: Joshua Lowe, a steelworker, lost his wife, Carrie, when a tornado ripped apart the Pleasant Grove house where they were riding out the storm. His is a harrowing tale of loss.

We were at my brother-in-law’s house.  We normally go over there when we think a storm is coming because they have a storm shelter. Our house is a one-story, starter-type home in Pleasant Grove. Ours is right on the edge of everything that got tore up. We actually don’t have any damage, like none—not even trees down in the yard.

We were there watching the live video from Tuscaloosa, watching James Spann, and it seemed like that tornado started moving away from Tuscaloosa, and we could see it moving in our direction. Then the satellite went out.  I finally told my brother-in-law Curt (he has been my best friend since we were seven; I’ve known my wife, his little sister, that long) we probably should get a battery-operated radio and go downstairs just in case. We were down there for like five minutes. My wife and sister-in-law, Crystal, had the kids because I have a five-year-old niece and a 10-month old nephew. They were in the shelter already. It is a cinderblock wall basement with the front face of it underground. There’s a five- or six-foot space, then another cinderblock wall with a gap in the middle. We were standing in there and kind of joking around because you don’t ever think anything like what happened is going to happen.

A handout from Carrie’s memorial

I started hearing something and I looked at Curt, and said, “Do you hear that?” Then about that time our ears started popping, everyone’s instantly from the pressure. So we all ran to a corner and holed up. Our son, Tucker, was in his car seat in the middle of all of us. My wife, Carrie, was in the corner holding Jacob, our nephew, and our niece was in between us. Curt and Crystal were right across from us. It is amazing how close we were together before it happened and then how far away we ended up away from each other—separated by the debris.

It got very serious very fast. It seemed like it lasted three seconds and it was over. In that three seconds, you could feel the house being completely destroyed. But at the same time you kind of felt safe because we were where we supposed to be. That was built specifically for a storm shelter. But then you start feeling stuff fall on top of you. I was buried up under a pile of cinderblocks.

A Letter Carrie was writing for Tucker’s baby book, the story of how she and Josh became a couple.

I was pinned for about five minutes.  Curt and Crystal, they got out first. They got lucky. And he helped me get the blocks off of me, and we got out and looked. What happened was the porch, a concrete slab the length of the house, caved in on us. It all broke apart and just fell on us. A big slab of concrete was lying directly on Tucker’s car seat. Right beside the car seat, my niece was pinned under that slab, too. We could see her arm sticking out. We knew she was conscious because she was screaming, and the baby Tucker was screaming, too. Somehow we got stuff cleared, and we are screaming for Carrie, and she never answered. Best I could tell it was probably instant with her. We were screaming, “Where is Jacob?”—my 10-month old nephew— and we see him crawling around underneath this big piece of concrete, so we grabbed him. He had some cuts on his head, and it turned out he had two skull fractures on each side, but they were minor, and he does not have any brain damage or anything like that. They kept him in Children’s Hospital a couple of days.

I kept trying to yell for Carrie but she was not responding. We reached up under the slab and made sure that Tucker’s airway was clear. The baby was crying, so I knew he was conscious. That concrete slab was lying directly on the center of his car seat, and I could not see because the slab was at an angle. By this time there were neighbors everywhere, because they knew we had people trapped. So many people helped. We had to get two car jacks and slide them up under each side of the big piece of concrete and jack it up just high enough where we could slide the car seat out and slide my niece out. That took about 30 minutes to figure out what to do to make sure we did not make it any worse.

Josh and Carrie on their wedding day

Once we got them out, they did not look good. They were conscious and seemed OK, but I told my brother-in-law to get them out and get them help. Carrie was trapped for another 20 minutes before we got her out. We had to push the slab completely out of the way, and we had to get a rope around it and have 6 guys pulling this way and 10 guys pushing the other way to get it off of her. That took a while. She was trapped down there for about 45 minutes to an hour. It is hard to tell because time moves so strangely.

We finally got her out, and she was gone. I was just lost and did not know what to do. But there were some people there who worked on her, some nurses who lived in the neighborhood. They worked on her for about an hour, when they really did not have to; but they did it anyway until they finally had to go see if there were other people they could help.

When we got Tucker out, he had a lot of debris on his face and was crying. A neighbor took him to her mother’s house, which was still standing; it was a couple of blocks away. You had to go that far to see a house that was still standing. She washed him up and put new clothes on him and was doing all that while I was staying with my wife.

Everything was mass confusion, just crazy. This was just neighbors helping each other. The emergency people could not even get back there. They did not get back there until midnight. And they were doing everything they could to get there. The neighborhood is one way in and one way out, which made it difficult.

I thought Tucker was with my brother-in-law, who was on his way to Children’s Hospital. A really good friend of mine, Michael McCarroll, was with me, and he said we needed to make sure where Tucker is. Somebody said they thought he was with my brother-in-law, and someone else said he thought they took him to a house to clean him up.

7 week old Tucker was missing in the confusion for about 2 hours

By this time it was getting dark, and I asked Michael if he would stay at the house. I did not want to leave, but when I found out Tucker might not be with my brother-in-law I had to find out where he was. So Michael stayed at the house with Carrie because I was just so upset. She was lying in the front yard, and it was just a mess.

So I got another neighbor and we walked down the street. We met a man who said he thought the neighbor had given Tucker to my brother-in-law, so that made me feel better because I thought I knew where he was. Then this neighbor cleaned me up and gave me a flashlight. I had asked Michael to stay at the house, so I started walking back. It was a long walk down this long, straight road by myself with one little light. By that time it was dark and people were getting out of there. I did not see a soul. I was walking down this road trying to find the house without any real landmarks left. I did not know if Michael was going to be there or not. I finally got back and saw my car. It was mangled in the middle of the road, and he was sitting right there at my car. He said, “I told you I was not going to leave.” We started walking out. It is a three-mile walk to get to the city hall where they were setting up triage. We passed first responders coming in, and I saw a friend of mine, and he told me that he saw my brother-in- law on the way out and that Tucker was not with them.

So I did not know if I should keep walking out or turn around and start looking for my seven-week-old again. Luckily, about 20 minutes after that, someone got through to me on my phone and told me my family was walking in, and it helped to have them with me.

I told them I did not know where Tucker was, and that was such a scary feeling. We went to city hall to see if he was there. By that time Fox 6 was trying to get into Pleasant Grove. My mother’s husband took a picture to a Fox 6 reporter and said we were looking for this baby. It took about two hours, and the woman who cleaned him up called and said she had him still. And then we got him back and went straight to the ambulance and went to Children’s Hospital. I went with him; I was not going to be separated from him again. They checked him out head to toe, and he is fine. We did not get there until two in the morning.

Josh and Carrie

I have a bone broken in my hand and a sprained ankle and some bruises where the cinderblocks fell on my back, but other than that nothing serious.

It is hard to put into words how I felt walking back down that road to the house where it happened. You just can’t imagine power lines lying down, trees everywhere, cars everywhere rolled over on their sides. There was not a single person there anymore. It was pitch-black dark, and it had started to rain hard right before I got to where I could see my car in the distance.

I told Michael that the fact that he stayed there and waited on me meant a lot. I told him if he had not been there, and if I had been there by myself with my wife, her body just lying there, they might have found me roaming the woods somewhere. I don’t know what I would have done.

It is kind of hard to think about the future. It is day by day right now. When I think about the future all I can think about is what Carrie would want me to do and how she would want Tucker to be raised. She was proud to be a graduate of Samford and to be a nurse. She worked in the emergency room at St. Vincent’s East.  I am trying to honor her.

The storm story that went viral…

The story told by University of Alabama student Randy Robbins of his horrific experience during the tornado that struck Tuscaloosa and Alberta City has been read by thousands via email and Facebook.  Robbins’s story is particularly moving because of his simple, heartfelt storytelling, marked by, as he put it, “as much detail as I can muster with the medication I am on.” According to Robbins, “I need to put this down for therapeutic reasons and for others to read because I can’t keep re-telling this story.” Robbins describes the way he went home to his Alberta City apartment after classes were cancelled at the University, then ignored repeated text messages from friends and family about the path and severity of the storm.  He renders in gripping fashion the way the storm blew his building apart and tossed him, he says, at least 40 feet into a chain link fence and then onto a pile of rubble, from which he rose and witnessed a terrifying scene:

I looked up from my prone position and I was lying on tile floor and I could see my neighbor lying on top of her baby trying to shield her. I also heard myself screaming and realized I had been screaming the entire time but hadn’t noticed.  The winds were beginning to pick up again so I ran over to my neighbor and threw myself on top of them to try and shield them. Somewhere along the way I stepped on a piece of wood with enough force to shove a 3-inch piece through the bottom of my foot. Please take note, this was not an act of heroism, but desperation. As far as my concussed mind could think, I truly believed during that split second that we three were the only beings left in a world that had dissolved around us. I acted to try and preserve the only other people left in this Hell so I wouldn’t be alone if I survived.

 

According to Robbins, he and his neighbors tried to help each other, and a lady at a nearby Save-A-Lot found a policeman who called in an ambulance to take Robbins to the hospital, where he received treatment for his badly injured foot. But he and a friend also saw looters run into a bank in an attempt to steal money. “If you are to take anything away from this story,” Robbins says, “it is two things: 1) God saved so many people that day, including me; and 2) disasters bring out the absolute best in some people… and the absolute worst in others.“

Robbins tells B-Metro he is pleased with the many responses to his story. “The messages have helped to take my mind off of everything that happened and has helped me cope with it all,” he says. “Judging from the messages I have gotten, I also feel like the story has helped others. Several people have said that the note helped them cope, personalized it for them, and convinced others to donate money, clothes and time to the recovery effort. I’m glad I could help.”

 

For the complete text of Randy Robbin’s story follow the jump here.

The tornado as “surreal” experience

The view from Jonathan and Katie Ross’s 16th floor condo in the City Federal Building

Jonathan Ross and his wife Katie Ross live on the 16th floor of the City Federal building downtown. It was from that high vantage point that Katie took this dramatic photo of the monster tornado that moved from west to east just north of the city:

We had just gotten home from work, and obviously the reports were pretty grim. We had already seen on TV, on camera, the tornado go through Cullman and Tuscaloosa, and that was dramatic, because my wife went to school at the University of Alabama, and that caused a lot of concern.  I remember listening to James Spann, and I remember going out on our fire escape on the other side of the hall from the condo and opening up the door and looking out. The fire escapes look toward the north and west. We see Legion Field, Malfunction Junction, that general direction.

There was debris falling out of the sky like rain—chunks of what looked like roofs of buildings. It was crazy to see. But we still couldn’t see the tornado. There was a shield of rain between us and the actual tornado, but we were hearing reports that it was coming to downtown Birmingham.  But the veil of rain moved out, and all of sudden we could see it. I’m trying to find words to describe the feeling. The rain is there, then boom, there it is.

It looked to be just north and east of Legion Field when we first saw it. It was probably a little farther, but it went right across that area, and we got back in the condo. We had to make a decision about whether we should go downstairs. But we could tell it was moving away from us.

Katie took that shot from our bedroom window. That picture was taken when the tornado was literally due north of us, up around Fultondale, probably. The tornado was so enormous it seemed like it was closer. I thought Carver High School and ACIPCO would be blown away. You couldn’t see them, and debris was everywhere. It was dramatic. It was so fast. In five minutes, it seems, it had come and gone. It was a surreal experience.

Caring for the children…

Steve Baldwin has been an emergency room physician with Children’s Hospital for 15 years and was called in the night the tornadoes hit. “Individually we usually work eight- to nine-hour shifts and see two to three patients per hour, about 20 per shift,” Baldwin says. But the night of the storms was horribly different. “Over 16 to 24 hours, we had about 60 patients that were related to the storms,” according to Baldwin. And the veteran doctor points out that this was in addition to their regular patient load. Baldwin handled most of the administrative tasks during his shift while his colleagues focused on patient care. “The amount of effort [by hospital staff] was amazing. We had up to eight to ten resuscitations going on simultaneously.” Baldwin describes that night, as well as his view of Alabama’s reaction to the disaster:

 

Children’s Hospital emergency room physician, Steve Baldwin. Photo by Beau Gustafson

There was obviously the sense of tragedy and sadness about all the damage and injuries and deaths that were going on. There was also the dimension that we needed to step up and do our best to take care of the issue. The other dimension was a lot of people being put together by fate or circumstance and having to come together as a team. It was a profound, significant, emotional experience. I think we realized it was important, and we rolled up our sleeves and marched ahead. The amount of people who were trying to help was phenomenal.

We saw patients from every corner of the state at some point that night. And we saw quite a few families disrupted. The child might be at our hospital, and the parents were at other hospitals, and in some cases, had died. And we put some effort into family reunification. This was important for a lot of people, and it was satisfying if we could get people reunited in person or by phone or through friends of friends.

We also saw quite a few children with life-threatening injuries. I define that as they needed breathing machines and they had serious head injuries or other injuries that would normally be considered critical or serious. Only two died. Most made a good recovery. In a way that’s pretty miraculous.

Our communities and our state and even people beyond our state realized the seriousness of the catastrophe, and the outpouring of support has been phenomenal. It is a good moment out of a bad situation. The people who have pitched in need to hear that their support made a difference. The other thing that people in Alabama should be proud of [is that] the whole response infrastructure—the police, the fire departments, paramedics, bystanders, the hospitals— all did a fantastic job. Things could have been worse than they were.

Pitching in…

Volunteers in Pratt City (photo by Elizabeth Russell)

In the weeks since the tornadoes struck, thousands of volunteers—many from other states—have worked to help Alabama recover. Samford University communications lecturer and debate coach Abi Williams told us about the many Samford students who are taking part in this massive effort:

I started collecting donations and sent an email out on campus. I thought the older people, including the faculty, would respond, and they did, but what surprised me is that the students have mobilized. I follow them on Facebook and see where they are going to volunteer. They are studying for finals and still going out into devastated areas. I think the mental balance—having the focus on their studies and seeing the devastation and dealing with the emotions that come up from that—it’s amazing to me that they can handle that at such a young age. These kids have really inspired me.

Amanda Gargus, a sophomore political science major from Pell City, is one of the Samford students who are inspiring Williams. “I’ve done some volunteering, mostly homeless shelters, but as far as something on this scale, I never really had that kind of experience before,” Gargus says about her work as a volunteer after the storm. In Tuscaloosa, Gargus worked closely with four other volunteers, and they called themselves “The A-Team,” after the TV show. “The reason is that we were the most ragtag, mismatched group of people you’ve ever seen,” she says. The A-Team, in addition to delivering supplies to affected areas, was also pressed into service in Holt, Peterson and Alberta City to pick through rubble looking for survivors:

It’s been probably the most intense and the most opening experience of my life. I’ve met people that I never thought I would encounter. I’ve seen things

Elizabeth Russell with photos Pratt City

that have made me cringe in anger at how messed up the system is, but I’ve seen things that have made me smile more than I ever have. Meeting children in Holt, passing out candy, meeting their parents—those things bring me so much joy that something good will eventually come out of this, that Tuscaloosa will be better than it was before because the people have now been united by such a tragedy.

Jeremy Towns is a defensive tackle on the Samford football team and a sports medicine major from Dolomite. He has volunteered before, at football camps and a local detention center that houses troubled kids ages 12 to 17. Towns is also part of a campus group called Brothers of 1 Voice. “We started it at the end of last semester,” he says. “It was an attempt to create more African-American male leaders. I feel there is a lack of that in the community.”  It is with Brothers that Towns has taken part in storm relief efforts in hard-hit Pratt City—delivering supplies, clearing debris and sometimes just giving storm victims someone to talk to. Towns has learned an important lesson, he says:

I’ve learned that in order to really volunteer, it’s two components—love and sacrifice. Especially in a disaster like the one we’ve just experienced, some people want to do this job or that job, and it takes all the jobs to be done to be successful. To be a volunteer, you have to sacrifice and go with a heart of compassion and love. You end up learning more and being blessed more than you ever bless the person you help. And you also form a bond with the guy beside you to get the job done.

Learn more about Brothers of 1 Voice on Facebook.

Alabamians working together…

Tuscaloosa

Sam Burn of Birmingham is a marketing executive with Jim ‘N Nicks Bar-B-Q who, while taking part in his employer’s efforts to take food to affected areas, has also taken pride in the way his fellow citizens have handled themselves. “That was an example of everybody working together,” Burn say, “When I look at how the state rallied together, there were examples of looting, of people not at their best, but also a lot of examples of people working together.”

According to Burn, Jim N’ Nicks took a 22-foot barbecue rig to Tuscaloosa the morning after the storm and fed, initially, first responders. “At first we couldn’t get food to people in devastated areas,” Burn says. “But we knew that there were people that Alberta City who were picking through the rubble of their houses who really needed food.” Then Jim N’ Nicks owner Nick Pihakis met Willie Weiss, a female volunteer fireman from Coaling, and Daniel Ballard, a volunteer fireman from Mt. Olive, both of whom had been working long shifts retrieving bodies and helping the injured in Alberta City.

“They owned Alberta City emotionally,” Burn says of Weiss and Ballard. “And by now, you’ve got people with more equipment rolling in from other cities. But they weren’t leaving. They were free to go. But they weren’t emotionally free to go. They asked us, ‘Can we take this food to take to people looking through the rubble of their homes?’ We said, ‘This is what were looking for.’ I had the opportunity to ride with them and see the way people

were touched—to have a bite to eat, to have a stranger say, ‘Be strong, we are thinking about you, there are a lot of people out there who care about you.’ They had a glazed look on their faces, and it tended to warm their spirits.”

Reuniting people and pets…

A happy pet and a happy owner reunite after being separated by the storm. Photo provided by Phil Doster.

According to Phil Doster, adoption and rescue coordinator with the Birmingham Jefferson County Animal Control Service, the weeks after the storm were busy ones for the Service, as they tried to help lost or injured pets and reunite them with their owners. “It’s been tough for us, but we’ve gotten so much help,” Doster says. He thanks the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, the Alabama chapter of the Humane Society of the United States and the other groups and individuals who manned a lost-pet hotline or distributed food and doghouses in damaged neighborhoods. There have been, happily, many moving reunions of owners and pets, Doster says:

We are pretty stoic here. We see a lot of good stuff and a lot of bad stuff. But when these people got their dogs back, we were all crying. I was out in Concord trying to catch a German Shepherd, and this boxer walks up to me and sits down. He looks pathetic, has a laceration on his forehead. I opened my truck. He got in the cab and rode back to the shelter. The parents of the owner came in and identified the boxer. The women came in with her husband, who is a big guy, like a construction worker. He came in with tears in his eyes and started crying when he saw the dog. The dog was so lethargic, so melancholy. He saw his owners and went crazy. We all started crying. The lady was buried under rubble, and her other dog was standing on top to the rubble, identifying where she was. She came out unscathed. The older dog, a boxer, wandered off and couldn’t get back to the house. It was a very sweet thing to see them reunited.

Breaking barriers with social media…

Lisa Michitti Cross volunteers her time to assist in the Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa efforts.

Alabama’s recovery has been marked by the use of social media to help spread information about donation drops and volunteer activities, and by the breaking down of race and class barriers among those trying to help. Another barrier was broken by Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa, a group of Auburn fans who put aside the ’Bama-Auburn football rivalry to help Tuscaloosa’s storm victims. Toomer’s began as a Facebook page that quickly went viral and has over 80,000 followers. One of the people who volunteered to assist in Toomer’s social media efforts was Lisa Michitti Cross of Birmingham, an art teacher at the University of Montevallo. Cross is the perfect person to take part, since she attended grad school at the University of Alabama but also teaches art in Auburn University’s Prison Education program. Cross started the group’s Twitter feed. She discusses the importance of social media during this event:

For me personally, it is an immediate sense of connection, of what one person needs and what one person can give, and it’s happened en masse. No red tape, just people connecting to people. [It’s] the magic of social media. In a funny way, people feel that the Internet has sort of ended personal relationships. This is an example of that not being true. I live in East Lake, and I lost four 50-year-old trees and lost power. It was out until Monday, and I was staying with other people. Not being able to go to the affected areas led me to being on my computer to help people who were on the ground. I can’t go to Tuscaloosa, but I can be on my computer and help people there. It was a sense of connection.

You can’t destroy memories…

Rev. Anthony A. Johnson is Community Relations Chair of the Birmingham-Metro Chapter of the NAACP and assisted state legislators and community leaders in opening two disaster relief centers in Pratt City, at Scott Elementary School and Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. He has helped recruit volunteers, receive food and clothes and find resources for tornado victims. Not long after the storm, Johnson and other NAACP officials were escorted by government officials through Pratt City, Forestdale, Sandusky, Adamsville, Edgewater, McDonald’s Chapel and Hueytown:

Some areas have been completely destroyed. While some have lost everything, you can still feel a sense of “togetherness” and good old-fashioned American patriotism toward our brothers and sisters in need. Part of my formative years were spent in Pratt City. I completed my elementary education at Pratt School Elementary, which was torn down many years ago, but the gym is being used to do ministry in the community by Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. When I first drove through the neighborhood I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was almost surreal to witness the utter devastation in a community I had lived in from 1979 to 1986. I was a resident of Pratt City when rap first came out. I discovered girls in Pratt City. My friends and I used to walk down Pratt Highway and back for fun when I lived in St. Charles Villa Apartments, which is not far from South Hampton Apartments, a complex that was totally destroyed. And as a youth I remember walking with my friends to Sandusky Recreation Center to get a free lunch, play board games and watch educational programs. Today, many years later, as a minister and a board member of the Birmingham Public Library, I shudder at the loss of Pratt City Library. However, I remember the old Pratt Library just down from Mt. Moriah Baptist. The sight of the old library brought back a lot of memories. Memories cannot be destroyed. As I continue meeting with the community’s residents, pastors and elected officials, the resounding fervor and concern that I and other members of Birmingham-Metro NAACP hear is that “we want our community back.” And where resources are concerned, we are emphasizing equity and expediency. Pratt City is Birmingham, and Birmingham is Pratt City. Although a long-time and current resident of Titusville, I thank God for the human element which connects us all and makes all of our interests common.

A spirit in the air:

Governor Robert Bentley speaks with victims in some of the most storm ravaged areas. Photo provided by Rev. Anthony A. Johnson

Elizabeth Russell is a former Birmingham resident who came to the Magic City in April to have fun visiting family and friends. But that was not the fate that awaited her, not after the horrific tornadoes struck:

I never expected to end up in a van with a group of volunteers headed to what looked like images I had seen of war-ravaged towns. This was what was left of Pratt City. Three things left a lasting impression on me. One was the relief effort, the speed with which so many organizations and individuals were on the scene as first responders, and the abundance of donations that immediately began to pour in to the hard-hit areas, and also the blessed lack of so much red tape that hindered [the clean-up] of last year’s BP oil spill in the Gulf. The second and most haunting impression was the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandmothers and grandfathers searching through the rubble to find a piece of their lives, their pasts. I overheard a woman say that she was looking for just one photo, just one. I heard this repeated as we walked past other piles of barely recognizable debris. It made me aware of the power of images to connect our past to the present and how they must be reassuring when reality seems to dissolve in front of us. Finally, though I’m not a religious person, there was a palpable sense of spirit in the air. Just as the meteorologists had spoken of the atmosphere right before the tornadoes hit, the air in the aftermath had a definite change in it, as if the atomic particles had reconfigured. I felt it in New York City after 9/11 and it was in Pratt City April 30, 2011. People were kinder, less defensive. As I and other volunteers approached a house to leave bottled water for the people inside, we heard men’s voices in fervent prayer. It rolled out the open door. It seeped into the gaping cracks and splintered houses. And it swirled through us and around us as we stood outside and joined hands in silent awe or prayer.

Do you have a storm story? Send it to robin@b-metro.com. And for regular storm recovery updates, go to our web site here.

 

two toy soldiers that Casey Lucas found in her car the day after the tornado

“At first, my friends and I were not taking the threat of tornadoes seriously. After all, we live in Alabama and it seems as though we have a tornado warning once a week. We didn’t begin to take things seriously until I got a panic stricken phone call from my dad telling me that there was an F4 tornado heading straight for me. After the call, my friends and I headed to another friends apartment that was on the bottom floor of the building. When we got there, we began working on our homework that was due the next day. However, James Spann caught our attention much more than our homework did when we saw footage of the tornado in Tuscaloosa. Right after we saw the footage, the power went out. With our adrenaline pumping, we decided to take a peek outside to see what was going on. This is when we saw the tornado and sprinted back inside to take cover in a tiny crawl space under the stairs. All of a sudden the building started shaking and our ears started popping. We could hear glass breaking and things flying around the apartment. It sounds just like people say it does, like a freight train. When we knew it was safe to go outside, we began to assess the damage. I saw the most of the windows in my car were blown out. When I began to clean up the mess the tornado left of my car, I found two plastic toy soldiers. I have no idea where they came from, but I take them as a sign that I was being protected from the storm.”

Student, Casey Lucas

 

3 Responses to “Voices of the Storm”

  1. Michael says:

    Josh Lowe is an amazing man, Carrie was so proud of him as a man, husband and father… Carrie was an amazing person and God paired her with an amazing man. She will forever be in our hearts and watching over Josh and Tucker.

  2. Ramel Price Brown says:

    Beautiful story…Love is stronger than Death…Prayers and Praises continue for all those in Alabama and across the South..we will never forget April 27, 2011 and all those lost to such devastation…The South will “rise” again..

  3. Kayla says:

    Carrie was an amazing person, I am so glad he was able to share his story to others!!! *Just a note his uncle to the picture to fox 6 news not his mothers husband. If it wasnt for the neighboor monica to have baby tucker, we wouldn’t have known what to do!! Tucker is a blessing!!!

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