Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Alabama Tornadoes

After leaving Clarksdale we headed for Red Bay, Alabama, where our Bus was manufactured. We planned to be there for a week or more since we had several things to take care of and Red Bay is a great place to do that.
Red Bay is in the northwest corner of Alabama and we found ourselves in the crosshairs of the tornadoes that caused so much devastation in that area. The Tiffin Service Center has an adjacent campground where we were parked along with over 100 other Tiffin motorhomes. They have a customer lounge which doubles as a tornado shelter. It has concrete block walls but it would not have been enough to protect us if we had gotten a direct hit. Fortunately that didn't happen. However, it was quite an experience.

Tornado sirens went of 4 or 5 times starting at 3 AM on Wednesday morning, sometimes with only 10 minutes between rounds. We went to the shelter along with everyone else. The TV was on in there, connected to cable, so we were able to watch what was happening and what was coming. Our biggest threat was a cell coming from Tupelo which was massive and headed directly towards us. At the last minute it veered a bit south and hit the town of Phil Campbell which was 30 miles or less from us. Another tornado hit 7 miles north of us. We were so fortunate not to have been hit. Reports from Phil Campbell on Thursday morning were from a woman who lived there and had a motorhome in Red Bay. She said they were picking bodies out of the trees. Unbelievable. One of the workers at Red Bay said they were finding mail from Smithsville MS, another nearby town that was devastated. This is still so unbelievable to us.
NBC Nightly News reported about the two towns near Red Bay that got hit - Smithville, MS and Phil Campbell, AL. The first report said there were 26 dead in Phil Campbell out of a population of less than a thousand. Both towns were pretty much wiped out. 
After leaving Red Bay we headed for Palm City, Florida where we are visiting with Brian's family. On the way down here we saw literally thousands of emergency response vehicles heading north. We saw truckloads of  large generators, power trucks, cherry pickers, military vehicles, backhoes actually driving on the interstate, and so on.We assume more equipment is heading that way from many other directions as responders from all the surrounding states send help.

We feel extremely lucky and our hearts go out to those who weren't as fortunate. No pictures to post this time - I think we've all seen the devastation this tornado outbreak caused.

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