Spirit Will Not Be Broken: Voices from the April Storms
Many of us were deeply affected by the tornadoes that hit Central Alabama
in April. The Jefferson County Library Cooperative (JCLC)
Real Life Poets, Inc. joined together to offer those who wish to do so
an opportunity to share their experiences through writing. This project was
open to all ages.
Works were submitted between October 1, 2011, and March 31, 2012.
John Paul Taylor, Executive Director of Real Life Poets, Inc., will choose
the works which will be included in a printed anthology. Real Life Poets,
Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community service and mentoring organization
focusing on mentoring young adults, encouraging good communication, and
oratorical skills using spoken word poetry and the arts. Each submission
will be posted on the JCLC website (www.jclc.org). For more information,
contact John Paul Taylor at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (205) 585-8271.
We hope you will share this information with others who may have an
I heard the winds blasting, almost crashing through the window. I was in
the living room, terrified. My heart was pounding faster than a cheetah! I
would have run and screamed, but my mother held me tight in her lap. What’s
happening, how did I get up to this point, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. It
was a Sunday night and I was enjoying my time on the computer. Then, I
looked out the window. To my surprise, it had become windy and had started
raining quite a bit. I thought it was very strange, so I went to the living
room and told my mom to turn on the weather report. When she did, I was
blinded. I could not believe my eyes. The size, the speed, and the strength
of this monster! I gasped. It was so big, and it might be coming to our
area. I almost screamed louder than a girl being attacked by a kidnapper. If
that monster came to our neighborhood, we would be through, done, finished,
and gone ….gone forever.
Then, I felt the feeling and got the picture in my head of our house torn
apart and ripped to pieces. I saw that we were not protected. We didn’t see
what was coming, we didn’t know. I turned around. “Mom” I said, “get
everyone into the living room, now!” After everyone got into the living
room, I looked at the weather report, with my heart pumping, lip trembling,
hoping for my family, hoping against hope. The weatherman said the last
place. I felt like there was a rainbow in the sky. A smile tore across my
face. We were safe, absolutely safe. I felt a love for my parents and my
sister that I did not know I even had. I would never fight with my sister.
I’d always do my homework and do whatever my parents said, just to be safe.
I almost cried tears of joy that day. I almost hugged my sister. My parents
smiled. I smiled too. The monster was gone. The nightmare that seemed to go
on forever, was now gone forever. I lay on the sofa and kissed my sister
goodnight. “I love you mom and dad, and don’t you forget that,” I thought.
The next morning, I heard the birds chirping and the sun was shining.
That day, as I heard the news reports about the terrible devastation across
our state, my heart went out to those who had been affected by the tornado.
I realized how lucky we were. We were safe and that’s what I was thinking
about. Then, I was thankful, thinking the nightmare is over, the dream has
come back, and now we’re safe… safe forever.
by Heather K.
Age: 10 years old, October 18, 2011, Memoir
January 23, 2012
About two o’clock in the morning I get woken up by my mom screaming my name.
I finally wake up and ask her why we were getting up so early.
She said,” There are bad storms coming.”I put my clothes on got my
phone, my pillow, and my ipod and headed downstairs. When I got downstairs I
went to the living room to watch the news and before I even sat down dad
told us to go down to the basement. When we had everything together and sat
down in our little storage area we got the T.V. set up and as soon as we
turned it on the power went off.
Dad said,” Go get the radio up stairs.” When I came back with the radio I
handed it to dad, and he started cranking it. I just started laughing. So
after a while of listening to the radio, that we had to crank every five
minutes, all of the sudden I heard it say Toadvine Rd. That is when I
started praying. After the storm was over, I texted all my friends to see if
they were okay. Next, dad and I got some work clothes on and went down to
the area where the tornado had crossed through. As we were passing the
school, I started seeing debris. I was seriously freaking out. We pulled up
to the bridge, and I saw a bunch of trees down. We got out of the truck and
started moving trees out of the road. While we were moving them my dad fell
in a ditch; it was pretty funny. He got up, and he was soaking wet, but then
we had had to go because we were blocking the road. We drove to the church.
There were roof shingles everywhere, the sign was messed up, and there were
leaks all through the church. After helping at the church, we went to help
others that were in need. We helped by cleaning up trees, debris, and
gathering up people’s belongings. We did the same thing for about a whole
week. During this time our church helped with serving food to people that
were affected by the storm and also those who helped in the storm. The
people who were affected by the storm are now rebuilding their homes and
by Tyler Northcutt
Oak Grove High, 3/15/12, Mrs. Powers’, Pre-AP English 8
Twisty Swirly Naders
On April 27, 2011, a tornado struck Concord and Pleasant Grove, Alabama. It
was a F5 which one of the worst kind of tornado you could have. The tornado
destroyed many houses and destroyed many families. It ripped Pleasant Grove
apart. Concord was hit pretty hard too. Their elementary was almost hit by
the tornado, but thank God it wasn’t because my mom works there.
Another tornado hit January 23, 2012. This one wasn’t as bad as April
27, 2011. On January 23, 2012, an F3 hit Oak Grove, Alabama. I was praying
that none of my friends or family got hit. God answered my pray because no
one got hurt. This was the closest tornado that has hit close to me, but no
one got seriously hurt.
by Tory Cooper
The Black Nightmare
During the month of April we had some time to run
Before the Nightmare did its cruel way of fun
Clouds began to circle, lightning struck the land
That’s when I knew the Nightmare had just began
It sent its vortex to destroy what it could
It took our loved ones and half of the woods
Then it went to the school and took out Oak Grove High
Leaving nothing but rubble and old memories behind
The Nightmare did things we don’t understand
Like take our houses and crush them in its hands
Then the Nightmare left without any farewells
Just nothing but misery, why, I cannot tell
Though I do know some things we all understand
God has a reason and always has a plan
by Mike Swain
Day of Destruction
April 27, 2011 was no ordinary day,
For T town, Concord, Pleasant Grove and lots of places in between,
Mass destruction and disarray were all that could be seen,
Families lost their homes and some lost their loved ones as well.
A tornado, you see, on these places fell.
In just a short time, though it felt like forever,
It had come and torn them apart.
But these people came strongly together and made a new start.
A statewide cleanup had begun.
Though sadly today they still are not done.
Piles of rubble and debris, as well as damaged houses of those who were no
insured can still be seen.
So strong and together, we will continue to stand.
We won’t stop till it is clean and you can again see land.
As for my hometown and the great State of Alabama,
That tornado made us rise like a wave, ‘cause we are the Tide, and we’re
strong, and we’ll always be number one.
by Tabatha Wolfe
March 15, 2012
At first, there was thunder
and we began to wonder.
Then there was rain
as the tornado came.
If you watched the news
you knew this would leave a bruise.
It destroyed houses
and killed many spouses.
for those who died.
But every day
we still pray.
As for those who no longer have anything
we are still trying to replace everything.
by Dylan Young
Oak Grove High, Mrs. Powers, 8th grade
April 27, 2011
The humid air
The Wind in the trees
We all knew what it must be
Late that night we sat awake
Fearing we would hear the trembling quake
Of houses being ripped apart
And friends we knew close to our heart
April 27th could not tear us apart
But make us stronger
And closer to God
Some wounded, some taken, and some perfectly fine
We think about them as the days go by
Wondering if we helped them at that terrible time
When there was nothing
We gave them something
Called HOPE given from God
by Erin Burchfield
Oak Grove High, 8th grade, Mrs. Powers
April 27, 2011
On April 27, 2011 many lives were changed by a tragic tornado that hit in
Alabama. Houses, cars, buildings and many other things were destroyed. Love
ones were lost. Not knowing what was happening is what hurt the most. No one
thought it would be as bad as it was. It started out as a normal day, but to
our surprise it didn’t end as one.
We went to school just as any other normal day we just got out a little
early. No one took precautions or warnings. People didn’t think anything
would affect them and that life would still go on as normal. Around three-
thirty that afternoon the sky started showing signs of a tornado. It was
grey and gloomy outside. The news was saying to start getting in your safe
spots. This is when everything went downhill.
God says that when something is taken away from you, He will give you
something better in return. God showed His power differently this in
particular day. As some people took their safe places as directed, others
didn’t. The tornado was heading toward Pleasant Grove. The tornado was
People were trying to contact love ones and friends. Many people were hit
and were affected majorly. This was a devastating day for many and will
never be for forgotten. On April 27, 2011 lives were changes and many were
by Carlee Treadaway
English 8, 3/14/12, Oak Grove High, Mrs. Powers
Why did we survive?
“For I have a plan for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not
to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.”- Jeremiah 29:11
Many warnings had gone by,
As the day passed with our cries.
We were mournful, we were sad,
But God was there as our dad.
Everyone was waiting,
Waiting for that day to come,
When all was well and the night had begun.
I was here, I was there,
Pacing around in the care.
When it was done, I was in a run,
Running for it not to come.
“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”-
All is said and done,
But the day has just begun.
God gave me you to stay,
Though many paid the price for you and me today.
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in God.”- Psalm 56:3
by Regan Smith
Ms. Karon Decker 6th Grade Science, Hewitt Trussville Middle School
Tore across Alabama, tore through our hearts
Optimistic we stayed, to survive through the storm.
Rivals came together to help each other rebuild.
Never giving up hope for those who were killed
April 27, 2011
Damage and devastation across the state
Often, I thank God for sparing that day
Everyday, I think about the survivors of the storm,
Saying a silent prayer for those who were hurt
by Victoria Stack
Ms. Karon Decker 6th Grade Science, Hewitt Trussville Middle School
Our world, upheaved and twisted
around trees, flung,
roots and all, five miles
as the crow cries,
and what was mine is yours
and theirs and everybody’s
sifting through ruin, and I see the best,
as two men carry another one
down the wrecked avenue,
and I wonder how to rebuild
a world that no longer is
but was, just yesterday,
was, just three hours ago,
and it’s too much. Really too much
to comprehend. Neighbors lost
to the wind, towns disappeared
over night, and we are reduced
to what is essential:
shovels and tears and each other.
by Matthew Layne
The Finch Pool
Later, after the fact, there was talk
Talk of God's larger plan
God planned on the bird bath in my living room?
I wish He'd planned on bringing it through the door
Rather than the ceiling.
My father spoke of larger plans
The Big Picture, he called it.
On the ship it was God's plan
On the beach? Eisenhower's.
I have no plan
but to slake the thirst of birds.
by Ray Busler
2011 Tornado Memory
I had been told that victims of weather phenomena generally needed help the
most about six weeks after the storms, and that most of the time they needed
help with grunt labor, clearing trees, landscaping what had once been a
lawn—and I don’t mean laying sod. Sometimes it was picking up limbs for
those unable to do it. By the time I drove to Tuscaloosa weeks later, it
was a Saturday, and hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement. Tuscaloosa
has hot weather in spades during the summer, and in 2011 was no exception.
I pulled my car up on the side of McFarland and noticed two guys out in the
middle of all those barren, demolished lots. They were wearing hard hats
like construction workers and fluorescent vests. One was stockily built to
say the least.
“Do you guys need any help clearing any of this?” I asked.
The thinner of the two men spoke. “Nah, most of what we gotta do needs
heavy equipment to git it done. Trent here probably knows where you could
I looked at Trent, a young black man, not much taller than me. In addition
to the hard hat and vest, he wore sunglasses. His forearms looked like
Louisville sluggers. Then it hit me.
“You’re the running back.”
“Yessir,” Trent Richardson replied casually.
“I didn’t recognize you in the sunglasses. I really enjoy watching you guys
“Thank you,” he replied humbly. I sensed quickly that he didn’t really need
I was directed to Hargrove Road where food and soap were being parceled out
to those who needed it most. It was odd that there were no students lined
up, only the local denizens, those who called Tuscaloosa their permanent
home. It made you feel good to help them. As I stood there all day sorting,
packaging, and lifting with a back that began to ache a little bit more with
each passing moment, I thought that I could easily be the one needing the
help, that sooner or later we all need it in some way. Either the weather
or our health or a family member or something forces us to reach for that
helping hand regardless of what we might think is our own monumental
pride. I spent most of my day inside a huge trailer that had been opened at
both ends. It was stocked to the ceiling on both sides with all kind of
food, but mostly things that people could cook a lot of, those with
electricity. Thank Alabama Power that most everyone who had walls left, had
had electricity restored. There were people from everywhere lending a
hand. A church had transported its youth from as far away as Texas just to
help out. It let me know that the American spirit was alive and well, that
the generous humanity of the human heart would always pulsate. I was tired
when I drove back home that day, but proud.
by Jason Head
Here is a load of things you treasure–
I’m returning them to you at my pleasure:
cars, trains, buses, parts of planes,
poles, wires, fences, bones and brains,
mansions, mobile homes and farms
and filling stations. Tell me where
to drop them–on your porch, or there
where you think you’re hiding?
Hold out your arms!
by Joanne R. Cage
On a cloudy afternoon
a powerful storm is coming soon.
The tornado doesn’t spare,
so it’s best to be prepared.
The siren sounds aloud
and shelter has been found.
We all tune into Spann
after all, HE is the man!
Ominous wind frightens all,
and the cloud looks like a wall.
Get to your basement
or strongest encasement.
The twister, like a beast,
is coming out of the southeast.
It unleashes all of its wrath
and leaves destruction in its path.
by Jake Burchfield
Oak Grove High, Mrs. Powers
God Bless the Broken Heart of Dixie
Hasn’t Alabama already suffered enough?
We had fallen and already started to pick ourselves back up.
Another storm, another year, another day we held back our tears.
Did we not cry enough last year on that fateful day?
I still remember praying that everyone I knew would make it out okay.
But here we are again.
Under a mattress praying,
It feels like only yesterday.
So I say, God bless the broken heart of Dixie.
by Helen Raymond
Oak Grove High, Mrs. Powers, 8th grade
January 23, 2012
On January 23, 2012, my life was changed by a tornado. There had been
tornado warnings all that day and night. I went to sleep that night thinking
that everything was fine and nothing was coming. Hours later, in the middle
of the night, I woke up to the sirens going off by my house at the school.
About twenty minutes later, the power cut off. By that time, I was scared
and I ran in my living room. I sat with my Aunt Kristi while we watched the
James Spann had told us it had the same path as the one on April 8th in
1998. That tornado had affected Oak Grove and many other towns. By then, we
knew to get in a safe place. At that time, it got really loud and the house
started shaking tremendously. It was too late to run down to the tornado
shelter so my aunt, sister, and I ran into the bathroom and got in the
bathtub. It continued for a minute or two. My sister was screaming, and I
just kept telling myself it was going to be okay. We finally got out after
about thirty minutes and walked into the living room and we called a few
people to ask if they were alright and if it was safe now since we had no
cable or power.
Several hours later, I finally fell asleep on the couch. I only got two or
three hours of sleep though. Later on the day, my aunt, my friend, and I
went driving around to go get something to eat and see the damage. Trees and
power lines were down, houses were demolished, churches were hurt, and
several people lost their lives. On January 23, I learned to cherish the
things you have, because in a short amount of time, it can all be taken
by Katelyn Hollingsworth
1st period, Powers
April 27th was a heartbreaking day for many people in Alabama. The F-5 stormed
across the state, homes were damaged and some even destroyed. Some people even
lost loved ones. It was a horrible and sad day for everyone.
That day one of my best friends lost her house to the awful tornado. She and her
family were so strong and brave during the whole experience. They always
believed that God was with them, and He has a plan for them, and this was just a
part of it. She and her family are such a role models for me and so many others.
by Kristin Ferguson
April 27, 2011
April 27th was the day of the tornado
The morning was bright and sunny
Yet the afternoon was green, dark, and gloomy
We waited and waited for it to arrive
It finally came and we were prepared
We prayed all day that God would keep us safe
And He answered our prayers
The cities around us were destroyed
Pleasant Grove, Concord, and Tuscaloosa
But as it is said in Romans 8:28
“He makes all things work together for our good”
Also in Romans 8:31
“If God is for us, then who could be against us?”
So we cannot worry
Because God is on our side through every storm.
by Lauryn Barnett, 3/16/12
April 27, 2011
The tornado on April 27 destroyed many people’s houses, family, and many
lives. It was an extremely tragic day. No one expected it to be bad, but it
was terrible. It was devastating.
Jefferson County got out at 12:00 that day, and when we did it was green
outside. That meant a tornado was coming. My mom picked me up, and we went
home. We were supposed to be going to Universal Studios that night with the
band. It was very hectic because we weren’t sure if what we were going to do
We waited for the tornado to come, and it finally did. My brother, Steven,
and I got in the bathtub. We put helmets on in case we got hit by the
tornado. My dad went outside while the debris was flying everywhere to see
what was going on. He ran back inside. My brother was very scared, and he
After the tornado had hit and passed, my mom went over to our neighbor’s
house. We then realized that Pleasant Grove got hit. We were very worried
that my grandparents got hit. My dad drove there to see if they were okay or
not. He came back hours later saying that he saw so many tragedies. He saw
houses on fire, people on the ground injured, some people on the ground
dead, houses destroyed, and anything else you could possibly imagine. My dad
also said that my grandparents were okay though, so we were very relieved.
We drove to the school, not knowing if we were still going to Universal
Studios, because we had no cell phone service. They told us that we were
going to go anyway. Some people that were going to be on the trip with us
lost their homes. As we drove to Orlando, we saw all of the houses, power
lines down, and trees that had been destroyed in Concord.
April 27, 2011 was a very tragic day. So many people’s stories were much
worse than mine. Their houses were destroyed, lives, and families were torn
apart. We will never forget that day.
by Madison Shearer
The Destruction of April 27, 2011
On April 27 twenty eleven
A big ole monster came and tore through
P.G and T town too
Lives were lost more than one to be precise
That “nader” brought us all together
To be united as one
And never back down
No obstacle is big enough for us to overcome
For we are the Tide and we’re not afraid to show it
That “nader” caused enough damage for the whole state of Bama to rise as one
And start a monstrous cleanup
The worst part is were still not done
So “naders” pack your bags ‘cause you’re not welcome
In my town and my state ever again.
by Sarah Jacques
Oak Grove High, 8th grade, Mrs. Powers, 3/15/12
Tornados! Tornados! Tornados!
How bad they can be.
They can be on land or sea.
This one cut in tore,
through land and more.
It ripped and trashed through everything in its path.
Concord and Pleasant Grove was in its wrath.
It sounded scary throwing debris miles a far.
In my basement I was hoping for it to end.
Less than a year it happened again.
For now, we are safe and sound.
by Sawyer Hicks
On April 27, 2011
The tornado came.
It was very devastating.
People had lost everything.
Houses were leveled.
The sound of a freight train,
A person’s worst nightmare.
Pieces of people’s houses everywhere.
Losing loved ones.
Never getting over that feeling,
Being helped by the community.
Bringing us all closer.
by Sydney Bates
Oak Grove High, 8th grade, Mrs. Powers
Remembering April 27, 2011
There is a whole lot I could say about the tornado, how I reacted, what I
thought. I believe that the only thing that matters is that God is God and
He has everything under control. He is bigger than tornadoes. He is bigger
than me and you. He is bigger than even death. I have no earthly idea why
things like tornadoes have to happen, but I do know God is sovereign and
according to His Holy Word in Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work
together for the good of those who love God; those who are called according
to his promise.” So even though it breaks my heart every time I remember the
tornado, I can rest assured that God will never leave me and will be with me
for eternity. There is nothing too big or too ugly for God, because if there
were He could never love me. So, always remember that Jesus loves you no
matter what you’ve done and always will. He loves us more that we’ll ever
know. He died for your sin and my sins on a cross in shame. If you give your
all to Him it changes everything. He gives you a peace that is
indescribable. He died for you…….. why not live for Him!!
by Hannah Woods
Oak Grove High, 8th grade
My Tornado Story
On January 23, 2012 there was an F3 tornado. It hit a lot of places. It
hit Oak Grove around three in the morning. The tornado was up to 130 mph. It
hit many houses and destroyed a couple of homes.
Before it happened that night, I wasn’t really worried about it. I went to
bed thinking nothing was going to happen to anyone. At about 2:45, my
parents woke me up telling me to get my shoes on and go get my sister up.
Then at about three, we ran downstairs to our basement and got in our
shelter. I could hear the storm outside getting louder and louder. I was so
scared. I was worried about everyone at that moment hoping that they were in
a safe place as I listened to James Spann on the radio, which is the best
weather man we could ever have. All of a sudden, it got really quiet. Then
all I heard was something that sounded like a train. It was shaking my house
and I could hear the shingles coming off my roof. After that, my aunt called
my mom crying her eyes saying her house was destroyed-- their home gone.
Their daughter’s home was destroyed as well. After she got off the phone
with them, my mother and father got some work clothes on and went to go help
them. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. I could hear people
screaming and crying, yelling for help. There were a couple of fatalities,
but everything happens for a reason. We can only pray that next time we will
all be in a safe place and hope for the best. We can also thank God for
by Ashley Capps Oak Grove High, 8th grade, Mrs. Powers
Aftermath of the April 27, 2011 Tornado
On April 27, 2011, a tornado touched down four miles from my home. I
was so scared. After the tornado hit, there was no damage to my house or my
street, but there was damage in Concord. My mom, brother, and I got in the
car and went to check on my grandparents. As we got closer and closer, we
could tell there was major damage. My grandparents were fine, but one street
over people had been killed. That night we also learned that Pleasant Grove
had been hit. We also learned that two of our friends, Ernie Mundi and Tracy
Traweek had lost their lives.
The next day, we took food and water to my aunt’s house in Pleasant Grove.
There were power lines all in the street. My aunt and uncle were thankful
for the supplies. That day, we found out that my cousin’s home in Tuscaloosa
After this experience, I felt so lucky that the tornado didn’t hit my home.
My family and I have learned so much since the April tornado. We bought a
new weather radio. We have a tornado plan in place, and we know where to go
that will be in the safest place in our basement. My life has been changed
forever by the April tornados.
by Alana Gill
April 27, 2011
It was a warm spring day in April. James Spann had been forecasting this
storm for a week in advance, but it still caught some by surprise. That
Wednesday morning was warm and sunny. The calm before the storm, but that
was about to change. Around 5:00, the sky started to gray and the wind
started gusting. The calm was over. On the television was a familiar face, a
time honored man, James Spann, The Weather Man! There were many tornados and
their toll immeasurable, their damage innumerable, and the loss of life
unforgettable. My family and friends were in my basement hunkered down with
our bicycle helmets on, expecting the worst, but it never came. When we came
upstairs, James was still on and we watched the monster itself. We were
speechless watching that tornado carve out a path of death and destruction.
Even the mightiest of all towns, Tuscaloosa, fell to the storm and nearby
Pleasant Grove and Concord also. When the morning broke, it was clear to see
I was still here and so was most of Oak Grove and Birmingport. In our
prayers, we must remember the ones we lost, the toll it took on our
community, and we must always be thankful for what we have.
by A.J. Lawson
March 14, 2012, 5th Period
It crept into the night, like a robber on the loose.
Lightning was raining from the sky from the angered Zeus.
We turned on the TV and saw the coming weather.
It was sadly not going to get any better.
We ran into the storm shelter, rain pouring down.
Praying it wouldn’t damage our small town.
The sirens started blaring, fright rain through our veins.
We waited patiently, to hear the legendary trains.
It finally came, and hit hard.
We looked outside, and saw our property was barely scarred.
I was thankful, but heard Smithville got hit.
We will have to rebuild it, bit by bit.
by Blake Pennington
April 27th 2011
April 27th, 2011 was a day that came ever to soon
As the wind howled and the rain poured, we heard the sirens break through
Touching down fast, bringing great wrath
The twister destroys everything in its path
Leaving behind nothing untouched
Little children still being clutched
The trail of destruction spread far and wide
Cars and trucks turned on their sides
Trees with their roots being torn from the ground
The screaming cries is a similar sound
People clinging to God for help
They know that He hears their yelp
by Brittany Sims
Oak Grove High, 8th grade, Mrs. Powers, 1st period
Our Spirit Will Not Be Broken
Our spirit will not be broken, not because you intimidate me, not because
she says so, not even because I have suffered a great deal. My spirit will
not be broken because I intend to live my life as a strong woman God
intended me to be. Rain may fall, strong winds and dirt thrown in my face
will not bring me down. I’m me and you are you. My tears may fall and my
head may ache but my spirit will not, cannot, not even in this lifetime be
broken. When hell freezes over, pigs fly, and a sexually active person
becomes a virgin again, then it will be broken. Until then, you are you, and
I am me. Therefore, my spirit will not be broken.
by Bobbi Lee
Jackson-Olin High School
Silence before and silence after
Silence before and silence after
Short warnings and no time to escape
Something like a sneak attack, came to most as a surprise
Can anybody hear the cries of despair
Who could, over the many miles of separation
The many people holding on to street poles
The many people just holding on to their lives
Driving through town will never be the same
My neighborhood will never be the same again
My life will never be the same again
Representing the 35214…
Road to recovery
This is my voice, just for you
by Elliece Muse
Jackson-Olin High School
“Ma, we’re okay. We’re not hurt.
The house though…” and she lists
The details of the new reality, the result of turmoil.
Turmoil of a new creation:
Scent of pine filled the air
Like frankincense freshening the odor of death,
The perfume of creation tainted by the death of the past,
The sap of sentinels of the seasons.
A new world of sunshine and space –
Altered from the past,
Forever shaped by destruction.
Yesterday is gone. Today is created anew
Remade in moments –
90 seconds, maybe a little more, maybe a little less.
Mere moments in creating a new world.
And afterwards – calm, quiet –
No birds, no insects, no noise of life.
Yet life remains in the midst of destructive creation,
A breath taken, tainted with the death of trees.
by Grace Slaughter
I was not a victim of the storm, and I thank god for
that. I know some people who were. Seeing how the storm affected them
.The storm destroyed the property of Pratt city and Tuscaloosa in
Alabama. The loss of their house, clothes, cars, and family left them in
despair. Waking up an not seeing their family is hard to get over, but
they are still not broken.
by Dazwhun Smith
Voices of the Storm
They are the voices of the storm
They speak of death
They speak of suffering
They speak of loss
They are the winds that surround us
That hurt us
They swirl and twirl as they deliver their bad news
They are the voices of the storm
by Jane Ann Baggett, age 10
Making a Difference
On April 27th, 2011, our state suffered the most wide-spread weather
destruction in its history. Over 150 of our citizens lost their lives
and thousands were left homeless as perhaps the worst outbreak of
tornadoes in our nation’s history swept through Alabama. My company, One
Stop Environmental, LLC was privileged over the next three months to
participate in the clean-up. I witnessed many people “making a
difference” in communities throughout our state. Again and again I saw
our team members go out of their way to provide support to the people
hurt by the storms. We had people walk up to us in tears thanking us for
making a difference in their neighborhood. We had people approach our
team members in restaurants and want to pay for their meals. We of
course declined, but the connection we felt with these hurting people
made us want to work that much harder for them. We were working on a
road in Jackson County, Alabama where 19 people died. These neighbors
who had lost so much seemed to be reaching out to us with as much care
and concern as we were trying to give to them. Something humorous
happened on that road. There was a day when the clouds came in and a
storm was brewing. Some of the neighbors walked up to us and they had
bricks in their hands. We looked at them and wondered to ourselves what
this could be about. Then they smiled, handed us the bricks, and
suggested that we put them in our pockets. They said they wanted to make
sure that we did not blow away. To me it is amazing that in the middle
of such a tragedy, people who have lost so much can still care so much
about others and keep a sense of humor.
We were hoping to make a difference for the hurting people of this
tragedy, and I hope that we did. They also made a difference in our
lives by the strength and spirit with which they faced this catastrophe
in their lives.
by Robert Daniel
(April 27, 2011)
Giant dark invaders
swooped down toward
southern towns and cities
spreading wide webbed wings,
twisting crooked tails.
Raging wild winds
snatched up animals, homes,
sending souls to graves.
A day of horrendous images and
by Jane E. Allen
Tuscaloosa: April 27, 2011
There was no rain.
There were heavy clouds
dark and fat.
Winds pushing you down
But there was no rain.
Nothing had color.
The lights had gone out
And candles were shoved
into corners to try and replace
But the candles dripped onto the wood
and we missed the hum of electricity.
The phone rang.
I couldn't sleep because
wood splinters and bent metal
were shoved into my head
left over from houses that left
without a trace.
And I wanted to sleep.
To stop thinking of the faces
on the pages of newsprint
and the people who didn't call back.
But as soon as I would drift,
the phone would ring.
by Kathleen Toppins
Is this how Odysseus felt?
Seeing Scylla and Charybdis united as one.
I watch the world around me melt.
The sky is a maelstrom; the clouds are snakes.
They’ve blotted out the sun.
The earth beneath me shakes.
I’m ascending now. My eyes turn to Heaven.
Has the Prince of the Air won?
April 27, 2011.
From above I see the ruined temple.
God’s Promised Land undone
Before today life seemed so simple.
When will salvation come?
The angels tell me now that help has come in.
For my family they built a home.
And I smile as a tear does fall; they survived this Leviathan.
by Malia Marie Drummond
After the Tornadoes
I dreamed God showed up wearing a t-shirt under
His Osh Kosh's with his 800 number peaking out
like any plumber He was an hour or so late
but I think that was about me
this being Alabama Jesus was with him
same t-shirt and overalls
but don't worry Grandma
I understand Hillel is His helper on calls in
Tel Aviv and Williamsburg
anyway he had the biggest tool belt I ever saw and
when I reached for my checkbook
He smiled shook His head
pointed to a valve seat
and handed me a wrench
by Barry Marks
Who Calms the Storm?
Suddenly, callously the storm came!
Swiftly it approaches, little forewarning
Winds fiercely, brutally, angrily, destroying,
Leaving destruction, devastation, damage, mourning.
Oh, the despair, the misery of violent storms.
Furious rain, hail, lightning and thunderstorm!
Bringing with it fear, panic, and horror.
Into the depth of the soul it borers.
Then who can calm this livid storm?
A tempest knowing the direction it travels.
Contorting possessions like an atomic bomb!
Leaving everything in its path unraveled.
Ah, I know who can calm the storm.
One who is the Alpha and Omega,
One who is the Healing Balm,
One who can rebuke the winds and the sea,
The One who died for you and me.
Whatever the storm of your life maybe,
Weather it through prayer and faith you see,
He will deliver you from whatever gale,
Because His Blood has delivered you from death and hell!
by Jessie M. Jones
We Knew it was Coming
We knew it was coming. Every television station in the area was
broadcasting the impending horrific terror, the ‘April Storms.’
To think, at other times we had often sat listening and
wondering how technology and machinery could predict such an
awesome spectacle as were so bluntly being displayed and warned
in big bold colors the intensity that the storm clouds
presented. For sure, the whirlwinds were upon us! However amazed
we are at the wonderful ubiquity of the meteorologists, Doppler,
the storm Trackers, and all the weather gadgetry, many praises
should go out to those inspired, educated geniuses the weather
We knew it was coming by that Sunday before last Pastor’s sermon
where he preached on God’s anger and why God uses his wrath. The
Pastor expounded emphatically his lecture throughout different
passages of scriptures. Some in particular, Psalm 55:9, ‘Before
your pots can feel the thorn, he shall take them away as with a
whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath.’
Isaiah 29:6, ‘Thou shall be visited of the Lord of host with
thunder, and with earthquakes, and great noise, with storm and
tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.’ Jeremiah 23:19,
whirlwind of the Lord is gone fourth in fury,
even a grievous
whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the
head of the wicked.’ Hosea 8:7, ‘For they have sown the wind,
and they shall reap the
whirlwind.’ Zechariah 7:14, ‘But I scattered
them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not.’
All these scriptures share one thing in common, ‘bad weather!’
The good thing is, is that God own these wraths, and he is in
There is no doubt; we knew it was coming! Using the scripture as
today’s prophecies or predictors maybe in question by a lot of
people. You know like ‘that was then,’ but no one can deny that
these things have not happened before, and don’t forget God is
eternal. The twitch of that aching toe, the feel of that old
arthritic joint, and the rumble of the domestic animals all give
some indication that something is coming. Moreover, lets not
forget the days of Noah, ‘Because of the wicked imaginations of
their hearts, God sent the floods.’ If we could only see that if
we stop sometimes and look up to God repenting of our sins, some
of the angry wraths could be averted. Jesus gave us ‘Be Still,’
as much faith as a mustard seed; we can have what we want. I
think no one wants those weather havocs or wars. Just look
around you, you see things and you know the end results of some
of those things. Turn to God and do that which is right and
live, start repenting. No one may go out as Jon the Baptist
preaching ‘Repent, Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand,’ but
you can show that we know what’s coming of these actions!
However, go down to that basement, hit the floor in the right
area, cover up in the bathroom, and remember ‘we knew it was
by Henry L. McShan
When you sweep around us,
Encircle us in the ring of your arms,
It is with a terrible indifference,
With closed eyes
And measured breaths
That come out ragged despite your efforts.
It is a dance that you try to perform with grace.
You try to tuck the chaos under your skirts,
But it is revealed in flashes with each rhythmic twirl,
Pulsing in beat to the cadence of your steps.
You walk on the balls of your feet,
Leap and touch down in a pattern
That is utterly beyond your control.
You bury all uncertainty,
Push it deep out of reach.
You are determined that
No one will see your hesitation,
Not even you.
Though you dare not open your eyes.
by Laura K. Wagner
I Prayed and I Cried
Speechless, I watched it on the news
Horrified it was coming here
Panicking as it got more near
Helpless, living on the third floor
Petrified at the alarm sound
No basement to hide underground
Hearing reports that many died
As it passed, I prayed and I cried
by Latisha Ali
Warnings came days before,
Life as we knew it would be no more.
The clouds rolled in from west to east,
People prepared for the beast.
The winds blew through Alabama towns
Many woke and nothing found.
A child’s cry and a mothers hug,
Many looked but could only shrug.
250 or more paid the price,
As Mother Nature cut a slice.
The sun came out the next day,
People realized the price they paid.
Alabama and Auburn chants no more,
Together as one forever more.
The hand of God touched many that day,
Knowing full well the price some paid.
One may ask why I was spared,
The answer is that God cared.
by Pat Bentley
To my Mother and Aunt Iva:
We miss you so much – nothing on this earth will ever be the same!
I’ll never forget that horrible day
When the storms rolled in and you were carried away
Devastation so vast it couldn’t be real
Soon we would learn you both had been killed
We had listen to weather all through the day
Been told the storms were headed your way
We all called to warn you to get somewhere safe
But you said don’t worry, trust God and have faith
It was daybreak before they would let us come in
They said you’d been found by a neighborhood friend
Our emotions were raw as we rushed to your side
You were still on the ground in the place where you died
Your bodies were covered – that’s all they could do
So we sat there and waited for help to get through
Finally they came after waiting all day
They made make-shift stretchers and took you away
I looked all around me, everything gone
Nothing was left of your earthly home
I cried and I prayed, Lord how can this be
When a peace and your calm washed over me
God reminded me He’s in the midst of the storm
That He’s always with us, we’re never alone
We’re not promised tomorrow or even today
It’s the Lord that giveth and taketh away
And while our sorrow and grief is still strong
I know you’re happy in your heavenly home
Praising the Lord with your family and friends
Awaiting the day till we all meet again
All our love, Dianne Harrison August, 2011