Storms without and within
by Jennifer Cohron
Mar 11, 2012 | 1453 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jennifer Cohron
Jennifer Cohron
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I once heard someone say that the area where I grew up was the safest place in Cordova during storms because it had been settled by Native Americans. According to legend, our early ancestors were so in tune with nature that they did not build where a twister would touch down.

Of course, that’s nonsense, but it used to bring me a lot of comfort during tornado warnings.

My heart still skips a beat when the weather sirens wail.

That sound reminds me of the countless times that I took cover under pillows, mattresses, coffee tables and other furniture as a child while I waited for my daddy to say it was okay to come out.

For years, I was envious of anyone who had a basement or storm shelter at home. Now I realize no hiding place is completely safe when you’re in the path of a deadly storm.

The most unusual place that I have ever gotten stuck during severe weather is the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

One of my high school history teachers took our class and a couple of others to the Civil Rights Institute. The trip also included a tour of the church.

We were on our way back to the bus when a tornado warning was issued for Jefferson County.

About 100 of us spent the next hour in the church’s basement — the same area where the little girls had been studying their Sunday School lesson when a bomb went off in 1963.

Hanging out down there while tornadoes were forming above us was more than a little eerie.

Although weather warnings have always made me uneasy, tornadoes only set down in other people’s hometowns until Easter 2009.

A powerful storm came through that night that uprooted some trees and blew out several windows on Main Street.

Some of the downed trees were dumped at the Old Park where Zac and I were married a few weeks later. A large pile of debris is visible in several of our wedding pictures.

I’ll never forget sitting in the council meeting where Mayor Scott made it a matter of record that downtown had been hit by a tornado for the first time in the city’s history. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the last.

I was nine months pregnant when a tornado came through the following April.

That storm was headed directly for us but turned at the last minute and caused a lot of damage in the neighborhood where I was raised.

My parents were picking up shingles and other debris three days later — April 27, 2010 — when I called to say that I was in labor. As silly as it sounds, I’m glad Wyatt waited a few hours to arrive so his birthday won’t always be directly linked to death and destruction.

The tornadoes that struck Walker County last year have changed the way a lot of us view severe weather.

I know I wasn’t the only one whose stomach was in knots when storms made their way across Alabama about a week ago.

I almost worked myself into a panic attack driving to work that morning as I thought about Zac, Wyatt and I being in separate parts of the county if a tornado hit. Thankfully, Walker County was spared.

Several meteorologists mentioned on-air that there was rotation in the atmosphere but something was preventing the tornadoes from reaching the ground.

Personally, I believe it was someone but not a Native American.