Rebuilding From Disaster: Alabama March Tornadoes

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 5:23 PM EDT
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(WHSV) - On March 25th, 2021, 10 tornadoes touched down in Alabama. The strongest touching down in Central Alabama bringing extensive damage.

“We looked up and saw a whole gaping hole in our attic and our roof,” said Kathrine Atkinson, a storm victim.

In total, 4 EF-3 tornadoes touched down in Central Alabama. An EF-3 tornado has winds ranging from 136-165 mph. One of the powerful tornadoes was on the ground for 80 miles!

Storm victims are just happy to be alive to tell the story. “You’re talking to me, not about me so I’ll take that any day,” said Eric Wiggins, who lost his home in one of the tornadoes.

In Calhoun County, six people died from one tornado. The Alabama community came together to help those who lost the most. “We have some really great people in the community... even people who lost everything. They were trying to send you to someone worse off than them so the spirit and the love in Hale County is strong and we have really felt it from all of our surrounding neighbors,” said Katie Andoe, assistant principal of Hale County Middle School.

It’s a common thought that you never think a tornado will strike your home, until it does. “We just don’t take anything for granted anymore. You know for 16 years we kept thinking a tornado couldn’t hit here and know we know different... we know that it can so we will always be prepared,” said Herb Wilke, a home owner in the area.

There was enough damage to qualify for FEMA assistance as the community was cleaning up for months. “The Calhoun County Commission contracted out to debris removal contractors. They have been moving debris for almost two months now,” said Tiffany Deboer, Calhoun County Public Information Officer.

After a relentless spring, there was extreme urgency to build more storm shelters. “There was several tornadoes out here and no storm shelters at all. We have to get storm shelters,” said Senator Bobby Singleton.

It took until mid-summer but a new storm shelter arrived in one county after community members and several churches pitched in. Storm shelters are so important because they save lives and this won’t be the last time this area gets hit by tornadoes.

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