Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

UA student survives two deadly storms


Like many University of Alabama students, Emily Fuller decided to head home after the University cancelled finals in the wake of the April 27 tornado.

Looking forward to being home and away from the destruction, she packed up and headed to Joplin, Mo. just two days after the tornado. Fuller never imagined that after three weeks of being home she would survive a second deadly tornado.

“It’s really surreal,” she said. “It hasn’t really hit me that I survived two of the strongest storms in history, but it’s crazy to think about.”

On April 27, Fuller knew of the thunderstorms that were supposed to come through Tuscaloosa that night, but like many people, she wasn’t taking the warnings too seriously. It wasn’t until her sister called from Birmingham and told her that a tornado was on the ground that she and her roommates took cover in a closet of their Meador Drive home, just two blocks from Forest Lake.

Right after they hid in the closet, neighbors from upstairs and across the street knocked on their door, asking to come in and take cover also because they had just seen the storm going down 15th Street.

“It seems like it was over before it started,” she said. “After it hit, we didn’t really know anything had happened until later that night when we went further onto campus and we started picking up bits and pieces of what had been hit.”

Fuller, who said she had always been afraid of storms, decided to take the news seriously when the weather reports called for thunderstorms with possible tornados on May 22 in Joplin.

“It was still sunny in Joplin, but I was already freaked out from Tuscaloosa, so I went home and asked my mom to do the same,” she said. “My mom, my dad and I were all home when it hit.”

Fuller and her family took cover in their basement as the skies got dark and it started to hail. She said she could still hear the strong winds from inside a closest in her basement.

Like in Tuscaloosa, she was in a house a few blocks from where the tornado had ripped apart homes.

“We just lost really big branches in our backyard, and the entrance to our neighborhood is pretty damaged,” she said. “Across the street it was ground zero from the tornado.”

In both cities, Fuller was lucky to say that her homes, cars and belongings were not taken away by the tornadoes. She said, however, that it has given her a case of survivor’s guilt because she knew so many people, especially in Joplin, who lost everything.

The reality of what happened in Tuscaloosa set in quickly for Fuller, and she was happy to be leaving to get home and away from the destruction. But now she is faced with it in both of the cities she calls home.

The tornado in Joplin was an EF-5, compared to the EF-4 in Tuscaloosa, and she said the damage seemed much worse there.

“It went through the center of the town,” she said. “It hit a hospital, it hit the high school, it hit the elementary school, and it basically went through the heart of the city.”

A CNN reporter Fuller talked to in Joplin told her that instead of the F-5 forming in five to ten minutes as it normally would, it had only taken 30 seconds for the storm to go from a funnel cloud to one of the deadliest storms in history.

Now that Fuller is back in Tuscaloosa, she said she is sad to leave her family behind to deal with the aftermath of the tornado and to rebuild the city she grew up in.

“I think it’s going to take a lot of time; Tuscaloosa looks better, but it’s got a long way to go,” she said. “I think Joplin does too, but I think both cities are going to be fine and hopefully better.”

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