Sunday, May 1, 2011

Alabama Tornado Outbreak 2011

Whew! What a week! And not in a good way either!
Tuesday night at 7PM, they started catching our chickens. That meant that we would be up all night and nowhere near a tv to watch the weather. Wednesday morning about 6:30AM, we left the chicken houses and went over to Lance's Uncle Jim (we farm with him) and Aunt Nell's house to eat breakfast. They live across the road from us. While we were eating breakfast, we were listening to the weather in the other room. We live in one of those stupid areas where we are in the Birmingham tv market, but can only pick up Huntsville stations on antenna. They did mention that Blount County (our county) was under a tornado warning, but didn't cover it.
As we were eating breakfast, the power went off. Lance decided he had better go back up to the chicken houses to warn the chicken catchers. Right after he left, it hit. We believe it was probably straight line winds, but aren't for sure. We saw trees blow down and all kinds of stuff flying by the windows. When Lance got up to the chicken houses, the rain was being sucked off the roofs, it was never touching the ground. He ran in house #3 and the catchers and him walked to the front door just in time to see tin flying by. The tin ended up being from the freezer shed out front. The before picture can be found here.
 Here is the after. Since we were in the middle of catching chickens and had live chickens sitting in trailers waiting to be picked up, Lance had to go out into the storm to try to find a path for the trucks to come in to pick the chickens up because there were trees blocking roads everywhere. After the storm was over, we went out to survey the damaged and see where we could help.
There were huge trees down everywhere.
This is our next door neighbor's barn. 
 This tree fell across our road and hit some power lines.
 This huge tree went through the roof of Jim and Nell's church.
 This is a neighbor's shed.
 This used to be a dairy barn, turned restaurant, turned line dance place, now turned into a pile of rubble.
 A guy we go to church with had tons of damage on many of his barns and sheds.
 This used to be a shed at a small used car lot in Snead.
 This barn is in one of our cotton fields. You can see the before picture at the top right of my page.

Since we had no power, we had no idea of the devastation across the state. We did know that round #2 of storms was supposed to come through that afternoon. We were talking to some folks cleaning up on the side of the road when a police car drove by and said a tornado was headed this way. We drove home and got in the in laws basement.
 This is what we saw outside the window.
 Here is a picture one of our neighbors took from farther away.
 This is a picture from our church looking across Snead toward our house.
 Here's what I believe is some of the damage left behind from that tornado.
Of course it hasn't been "officially labeled" as a tornado, but those pictures don't lie!
 When Snead finally got power on Thursday, (we got power Friday night), I had to wait 30 minutes in line to get gas. I think they had the only open station for miles.
 This afternoon, our church started taking donations.
 We are going to deliver it to damaged areas around our county. Since those places aren't big cities, they really aren't getting much media attention or donations.

Here is a map of the tornado tracks across the South. Sorry so small, click to enlarge! If you look just north of Birmingham, you can see the town of Cullman, to the southeast of Cullman, you can see the city of Gadsden. We are located almost exactly in the middle of those two cities. We're very near a purple line.

Lance found this paper in our backyard today. We looked it up, and Peterson is about 8 miles north of Tuscaloosa. If you look on the map above, Tuscaloosa is just west of Birmingham. I would love to know what happened to her.

If you would like to see more pictures of the tornadoes around Alabama, please go here.

This is an amazing video of the tornado that hit Tuscaloosa, it could be rated an EF5. There is some language in it, so you can turn down your volume.


  1. So glad to hear you are all safe and sound....take care of yourself and your family. Continuing prayers for all of you.

  2. I am also glad you're safe. I worried that you were hit by the tornadoes.

  3. steph, i was wondering about you and thought about sending you an email. i am so glad your farm didn't suffer nor your pretty new house. were there any animals in the red barn? that dairy barn place, omg, that is awful. the roof was sliced off! take care and thanks for updating us!

  4. So glad to hear you guys are safe!! Our prayers go out to those effected by the horrible storms.

  5. SO SO scary! I'm very glad you guys are safe; my heart goes out to those who suffered damage and loss.

  6. So frightening but so glad you're all safe. Especially Lance & the chicken catchers being in the metal chicken sheds. I can't imagine. Prayers going out to you and yours as the clean-up process goes on.

  7. Our church is thinking about sending a team down to help out wherever needed. Can you email me your phone number? I would love to talk with you and get your input on who to possibly contact and hook up with there???

  8. I'm so grateful you are safe. I can't imagine any of this devastation.

    Praying of you and your community.

  9. Glad to hear that you all are alright!
    So sad for all those that have been affected.

  10. WOW! You guys were VERY lucky for sure! I couldn't sleep Wed. night and was worrying about you and praying for you. I had ugly images of your place twisted to sheds and it made me sick. SO glad you're all okay. TAKE CARE!! ((HUGS))

  11. Glad y'all made it through the storms ok! FYI, I've linked this post on my blog post about the storm (and added your blog to my blogroll). I hope your community can recover quickly!
    -Will Gilmer

  12. Dang, Steph -- those pics are scary. I was worried about all of you. Cannot believe the timing of the storms -- chicken catching day.


  13. All too scary---those pictures are every bit as bad as watching the video on TV as the storms approached Cullman. I live just south of all the damage in Calhoun County and EF 4.

    I drive up to/thru Cullman on 278 at least once a year and to hear those towns that I have driven through, like Snead, and know exactly where it is....heartbreaking.

  14. I'm happy to know your safe. Sorry for those who had to suffer damage due to the tornado.Sometimes I wonder why nature comes down upon us humans so harshly?
    Ok here's a fun quiz to lighten up things-
    Where in the World Will I Live?
    Find out where you are likely to setup home.

  15. I saw the pictures; it looks horrifying! It's sad to see the havoc that forces of nature bring, but we can't prevent these things from happening. We can only be cautious and prepared on what might come. Let's just protect those people and possessions that matter to us by hiding them into a spot where it would be safe.

    Edwina Sybert

  16. Even if you live in the safest place on Earth, you still aren't guaranteed that you won't experience natural disasters. Our town isn't a disaster-prone area, but, a tornado hit our city five years ago. It was even worse than the pictures above. We were all really shocked of what happened, and that was one of the things I never want to experience again.