EIGHT YEARS LATER: FIREFIGHTERS REMEMBER APRIL 27 TORNADO AFTERMATH
Saturday marks eight years since an EF4 tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa and surrounding areas, destroying hundreds of homes and businesses, and taking dozens of lives.
At Fire Station No. 4 in the Alberta area, April 27, 2011, started out like any other day. As the day went on, storms and tornadoes began cropping up throughout the South in what became known as the 2011 Super Outbreak.
“As it started turning toward Alberta City and toward the University (of Alabama) area, we got to thinking, well, we better get in our safe place,” said Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Department Capt. Jeff Roberts. “We had designated earlier that more if that if something did happen we were gonna get in the showers.”
Once the sirens started, the four men at the station huddled under a mattress in the showers, praying for protection. But God heard their prayers, because the shower was the only thing left untouched after the tornado roared through.
“The next thing we know, you could feel it,” Roberts said. “You could feel the pressure change in the fire station. You could feel your hair standing up, and then we heard the wind. Then the windows started coming out of the fire station, the roof was lifting off.”
When the wind died down again, those firefighters walked out to see Station No. 4 and the buildings around it gone. So the firefighters grabbed what equipment they could and went out to help their neighbors in dire need.
“It was just mass chaos,” said Tuscaloosa Fire Department Apparatus Operator Terry Jordan. “When the tornado came through and it was over with we walked outside and we looked, and it was just like a war zone.”
Station No. 4 reopened four years later, but one thing still remains. The tornado tore through the station at 5:08 p.m., and the clock that stopped at that moment is enshrined in a commemorative case in remembrance.