Tornadoes Do Strike Twice

There is a an old saying that says lightning never strikes the same place twice! We love repeating this phrase when lightning strikes during a thunderstorm. Again, the phrase is so common that it is often used when we think of unusual events happening multiple times to the same person. Unfortunately, this theory, when lightning strikes and unusual events happening to the same person multiple time has been proven false. I recently learned that the Empire State Building in New York City is hit by lightning multiples times a year. In addition, former Wisconsin Representative Jim Sensenbrenner is a three winner of the lottery, twice in Wisconsin and once in Washington, D.C. It seems that lightning can and does strike twice!

Unlike the old saying that lightning never strikes twice, tornadoes can and sometimes do hit the same location. Unfortunately, my hometown of Movico, Alabama and the house that I own is testimony to that fact. In 1990, my house, which at the time belong to my grandmother, was hit by a F0 tornado. An F0 tornado is the weakest tornado on the retired Fujita Scale. Thirty homes were severely damaged, and 20 others damaged. My grandmother’s house was one of those homes severely damaged. A tree standing next to her carport, split and came crashing down on her den. She often sat in the picture window in the den watching TV and the traffic passing outside. On this day, my uncle was visiting and thought the weather strange.  As the winds picked up outside, he lifted my grandmother and raced down the hallway. As they entered the bedroom, the tree came crashing into her house. It took nearly a year for contractors to repair her home. She lived with us while her home was repaired. It was a great year because someone was always home when I arrived from school! Did I mentioned there was always pound cake and orange slices!

A photo of our house (my grandmother’s house) taken in 2020. My grandparents’ last name was on the fence that welcomed visitors to the house. Sadly, that gate was destroyed by the tree that came crashing down during the tornado.

On Thursday, January 12, 2023, Movico was hit once again by a tornado. The tornado roared through my tiny community flipping mobile homes, removing homes from foundations, ripping off roofs as well as bringing down trees. It was a frightening afternoon for those living in and around Movico. Once again, my grandmother’s house, which now belongs to Sheila and I was in the path of the tornado. The tornado ripped the roof off the house and brought down numerous trees in the yard. Unlike the 1990 tornado that left my uncle’s mobile home next door untouched, this tornado stood the mobile home on its southern most end (as the mobile home was standing south to north) before bringing it to the ground in devastating fashion. This account was provided by a commuter who was traveling along US highway 43. In an interview with the local media, he described how the mobile home stood up and then crashed to the ground. He said the storm was moving from the east and crossed highway 43 and continued its destruction of homes. Here is the link to a story about the storm and the interview of the individual that witnessed the storm.

Relatives living behind my house (grandmother’s house) also experienced a direct hit from the tornado. Large tree limbs were slammed into my cousin’s house where my she tried to protect her grandson from debris. Her brother was in his house when the tornado lifted it up off the ground and dropped it a few feet from its foundation. A news article compared the event to the Wizard of Oz. Thankfully, everyone was able to walk away from this tragic event.

The mobile home that was destroyed by the tornado (picture from September 2020). Sheila and I stayed in that home during COVID19. We didn’t want to immediately move in with my parents after traveling from South Africa to the United States. We ended up staying in this home for two and a half months. We moved out before Hurricane Sally hit the area in September 2020. Hurricane Sally brought down the tree in the distance.

Unfortunately, Sheila and I have not been able to survey the damage. The tornado happened the day before we were preparing to fly back to Tanzania . Since all family members were able to walk away from the disaster, my parents told us to catch our flight and get back to Tanzania. It’s hard to imagine what the area will look like when we finally get an opportunity to return to Movico. I’m sure the emotions will roll in when we see vacant lots where houses once stood.

One Comment on “Tornadoes Do Strike Twice

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