Wednesday, May 4, 2011

First Person Account

I received this email from a dear friend in Alabama. There were also several photos but I can't get them to copy. This is one very lucky young man.

There and Back Again. A Hobbit's Tale... [4/27/2011]- please take this with a sense of humor and recognize God's influence.

by Randy Robbins on Saturday, April 30, 2011 at 1:00pm
This is my experience during the tornado that swept through Alberta and Tuscaloosa in as much detail as I can muster with the medication I am on. I need to put this down for therapeutic reasons and for others to read because I can't keep re-telling this story. If you are to take anything away from this story it is two things:

1)God saved so many people that day including me and

2)disasters bring out the absolute best in some people...and the absolute worst in others.

I am going to write down the events exactly as I remember them while I still can. I will add details that I have gathered from accounts by my neighbor and judging from materials stuck inside my body. I would also like to point out that any person I don't reference by name (such as neighbor) I had not really met before. Here goes:

At roughly 4pm on April 27, 2011, I was sitting in FI 414 class listening to presentation on industries and the severe weather alarms went off and the University cancelled classes for the rest of the day. I considered staying on campus, but I saw everyone else leaving and decided I would be fine going to my apartment (face palm).

This is probably my biggest regret of my life purely for the fact that I let the actions of others sway my opinion and nearly kill me. I walked to my truck that was parked roughly a mile away near the Coliseum. I knew we were in for a storm when the wind knocked my backpack off my shoulder halfway there. I made it to my truck and drove to my apartment that was located at the intersection of University Blvd. and 25th Avenue East in Alberta City, AL.

During my drive, I received several texts from both my older and younger sisters warning me that some severe storms were heading to my area. Naturally, I discounted them as hysteria and paranoia and continued on my merry way. I got to my apartment at roughly 4:30pm and popped a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner. I turned on my computer and pulled up my assignments for the night. As I began working through my homework, I got some more texts from friends warning me of the weather. I assured them all that I would be perfectly safe in my sturdy apartment. The timer for the pizza went off so I got it out of the oven and took two slices to my room. I hadn't eaten much for lunch so I was ravenous. I ate nearly the entire pizza. This small detail probably saved my life. More on that later.

The power in my apartment went out at roughly 5pm and so I opened the shades on my window to read and look outside. I noticed the trees behind my apartment swaying at a steep angle. Then I decided I should probably close all windows and doors. I did so. Just then my buddy Sean Philips texted me that I should find cover. I was coming up with a clever retort about how paranoid he is being when my ears popped really hard and I heard what sounded like a train outside my window. I had watched enough news to know this meant a tornado. I jumped into my closet and slammed the door shut. I felt the whole building shaking so I grabbed the door knob and held it shut with all my strength.
Then I heard tearing and ripping noises which had to be my back wall tearing away. At this point, I wanna point out that if any of these events had occurred slightly differently or in a different order, I would have been buried.

Anyway, the back wall tore away from the building and the door to my closet began shaking open and I kept pulling it back closed. After a couple seconds of this struggle, the door and I were sucked out of the closet and through the back wall. I never rose more than a couple feet off the ground but, judging from memories of where things were, I flew about 40 feet total. The winds flung me from the back wall into the chain link fence 10-15 feet behind my apartment with enough force to leave bruises of the chain links in my side. It then flung me back into some piles of rubble where I was then rolled around on the ground for about 15 seconds before it subsided slightly.

I looked up from my prone position and I was lying on tile floor and I could see my neighbor lying on top of her baby trying to shield her. I also heard myself screaming and realized I had been screaming the entire time but hadn't noticed.
The winds were beginning to pick up again so I ran over to my neighbor and threw myself on top of them to try and shield them. Somewhere along the way I stepped on a piece of wood with enough force to shove a 3-inch piece through the bottom of my foot.

Please take note, this was not an act of heroism, but desperation. As far as my concussed mind could think, I truly believed during that split second that we three were the only beings left in a world that had dissolved around us. I acted to try and preserve the only other people left in this Hell so I wouldn't be alone if I survived. I laid on top of her and immediately the winds picked up again. I was bombarded with (judging from wounds and what is still imbedded in my back at the time of this writing) glass, roofing shingles, pieces of wood, and a Bic pen. LOL. I know this for sure because I pulled it out of my side when I stood up.

The storm finally dissipated after roughly 10-20 seconds and slowly stood up. Due to adrenaline and shock, I did not notice any of the injuries I suffered. However, I did notice that I could barely hear anything and my ears were bleeding from the pressure of the storm (the earlier popping that alerted me of the tornado). Everyone's ears were. The poor baby's ears were pouring blood. At this point, I surveyed my body. My jeans, watch, glasses, and shirt had been ripped from my body. Somehow, I was still holding my iPhone in my right hand.

Read the Entire Story



  1. I found a link to his blog. Might be easier to read there.

  2. Thank you Grumpy. You did a great job.

    Here's his link

  3. Fishy.. I jumped it back the original, that way people can wish him well and thank him for the story..

  4. Great story Fishy, Randy's lucky to be around to write it...

    Hope he tales care of the foot.. Old foot injuries have a reminding you what happened yeaars after you forgot they were there

  5. He's a friend of my God Daughter. She sent me the link.

  6. My friends in Cullman, Athens, Ardmore, Hazel Green and Huntsville are all safe, but a lot of damage. Huntsville in the bowl is a magnet for tornados.

    I worked within sight of the Space Center for 2.5 years in that beautiful city.

  7. Speaking of magnets for the things..

    In 2002 I checked with one of my customers right after a F-4, high end of the scale, had hit her general area.. She was fine, but the town asked her to look at some of the damage.. I went with her. The area was still secured, so I saw it before most people did.

    One of the people we had to see was the Town Historian.. He pointed at a pile of rubble on a corner across the street from where we met him..The house was gone, most of had litterly blown away. He told us in 1825 there was a one room school on that corner.. It had been demolished by a tornado as well, six kids were in it..

    Then he went on to say from the old pictures, it looked like the damages to nearby houses was very similar to 1925.. and the path was exactly the same.

  8. Wow!

    Sometimes it takes a disaster to bring out the best in people.



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