April 27th, 2011: An Open Letter To Tuscaloosa Residents

As a Florida transplant coming to Alabama, one of the dates I quickly learned about was April 27th, 2011. Before, I didn't understand how bad it was. Now I know.

One of the major differences between living in Florida and Alabama is tornadoes. To be honest, I had no idea what weather polygons were, I forgot the best ways to prepare for a tornado, and thought I'd never experience one. Back in elementary school, we had tornado drills and learned what to do in case of a tornado. In Florida, we never had to use those skills, it was all about hurricanes. Storms you could prepare for with multiple days' notice.

In Alabama, with tornadoes, there is minimal preparation you can do at the moment because they're so sudden. It's worse when the storms are deadly as were the April 27th storms.

I remember riding around Tuscaloosa with Alabama native Mary K, and she would show me all the places that were destroyed on April 27th, 2011, and had to be rebuilt. Playgrounds, apartment complexes, homes, countless businesses, and more. I couldn't believe it.

I finally went on youtube to see footage last night and my jaw dropped. I've watched the actual storms, but I never looked at videos of the damage for some reason.

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I salute the people of Tuscaloosa for their resilience, I know it's not easy. So many lost their lives that day, their livelihood, and are still dealing with trauma ten years later as a result of those storms. Seeing the damage and places in Tuscaloosa being unrecognizable was a feeling I couldn't even describe. Speaking with people that were in Tuscaloosa on April 27th, 2011 was a heavy feeling as well. One resident said, "The toughest part is loss of life."

As a Florida Transplant, to Tuscaloosa residents, I just want to say keep pushing. Keep uplifting each other, and stay strong. The rebuilding that has happened in this city is amazing and I know that Tuscaloosa will only grow stronger together as time continues to move.


KEEP READING: What to do after a tornado strikes


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