I will never forget that tornado sound.
It was 2011 when I heard a tornado sound for the first – and hopefully last – time. I was in my sophomore year of college. At the time, I was attending Samford University in Birmingham.
In the late afternoon, the sirens went off. The ladies of Vail Hall were ushered down into the basement. They were advised to bring blankets, pillows, snacks, and phone chargers, and prepare themselves for a very long night. Of course, my roommate and I—for reasons that made sense at the time—turned the lights off in our dorm, locked the door, and remained silent. The RA only knocked once and then assumed we were elsewhere (she never once asked where or showed concern for out whereabouts). We were in the bottom floor on the ground level. We thought we were safe.
Have you heard a tornado sound? Some people say it sounds like a roaring train. And it does—but imagine you’re lying with your ear right on the track centimeters away from the locomotive itself. That’s what I remember hearing in our dorm. The thundering sound of the end of the world and a horrible mistake. We were next to a window. We had our TV plugged in.
We were not safe.
Luckily, the tornadoes never touched down directly on our campus. But I will never forget the damage and loss it caused in our community. Shortly afterward, we heard about not only the destruction but fatalities caused by those tornadoes. We learned that it was the worst outbreak of tornadoes in American history—and it still holds that record. The damage was not limited to Alabama. Mississippi and Georgia—among other states in the southeast—were affected by the tornadoes. Both commercial and residential property faced severe damage.
Five years later Tuscaloosa and Birmingham are recovering. In fact, the homes that have been built in the wake of the natural tragedy are stronger than ever.
When you hear a tornado sound you need to act quickly.
In other words, do the opposite of my roommate and me.
Go to the basement.
Follow directions if you are in a dorm or office building.
Stay put under the danger has passed.
( Here is a sheet for tornado safety.)
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