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

Forest Lake neighborhood update


The Forest Lake area, a residential community with a mix of college students and life-long Tuscaloosa residents, was almost completely destroyed by the April 27 tornado.

According to the Forest Lake Neighborhood Association, the Forest Lake area is bounded by 15th Street to the north, McFarland Boulevard to the east, Hargrove Road to the south and Hackberry Lane to the west.

Prior to the tornado, approximately 1,500 people lived within these borders in more than 300 households. In addition to these families, the neighborhood was also home to the University Place Elementary and Middle schools and churches of various denominations.

The damage from the tornado has prevented many families and residents from returning to their homes.

Mary Grace Cassity, a senior majoring in history, lived in the neighborhood for 18 years before moving to the University of Alabama residence halls in 2008. Her parents lived in their Forest Lake home at the time of the tornado. Currently, their house is deemed “unlivable.”

Cassity said while she is happy with the recovery effort and the progress that’s been made in the neighborhood, there is still a lot of work to be done.

“The neighborhood was aptly named,” she said. “There were many trees, especially pine trees, and everything looked so barren without them. All the recognizable landmarks are gone.”

But Cassity said the community’s ability to come together in a time of need offered comfort and hope.

“We were never particularly close with any of our neighbors, but after the tornado, everyone was checking up on everyone else and offering help and support,” Cassity said. “There was so much confusion in the first days, and it felt like we could really rely on our neighbors.”

In the days and months since the tornado, thousands of volunteers have helped with the clean up and recovery phase in Forest Lake.

“Most of the houses that were severely damaged have been cleared out now,” Cassity said. “The city did a good job of removing all of the trees and debris and the roads were passable after only a few days.”

But most residents agree that the neighborhood just isn’t the same.

Andrew Kirchner, a senior majoring in finance, has lived in Forest Lake since his junior year.

Only a few minutes before the tornado, Kirchner visited Mike and Ed’s BBQ, a restaurant on the outskirts of the neighborhood.

“I had just made it home from Mike and Ed’s when I turned on the television and saw what was going on,” Kirchner said. “After that my roommate, his girlfriend, their dogs and I all bunkered down under a mattress in the hallway. When the tornado came through, the house started to shake like a washing machine.”

It wasn’t until a few days later that Kirchner learned he was the last ever patron of Mike and Ed’s BBQ. The restaurant was completely destroyed by the tornado.

Kirchner said the neighborhood is different now. “There is little or no shade around the lake, there are only foundations where houses once stood, there is still debris littered all across the once beautiful lake and I can’t call up Mike and Ed’s and order another barbecue baked potato.”

Kirchner said after the tornado, he considered leaving the Forest Lake area for good.

“I had already renewed the lease on my house but the thought to leave did cross my mind,” Kirchner said. “I definitely feel like it was a traumatic event.”

But Kirchner said he still has hope for the neighborhood and that he hopes to see more progress soon.

“They need to start replanting trees and getting on with the rebuilding process,” Kirchner said. “It will take a while to get things around here back to normal.”



More to Discover