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Hurricane brings back memories

Theresa Swope / New editor

I had planned on writing about my first time covering a football game – I covered Marion Military Institute vs. Southern Academy Friday night – but somehow, with Katrina tearing through Louisiana, Mississippi and our own state of Alabama, football just seemed so insignificant.

I can’t recall how many hurricanes I’ve been through in my (almost) 35 years, but I’ve been through enough. The most memorable ones for me have been Frederick, Opal and Ivan.

Frederick came through Auburn when I was a young girl, about seven I believe, and while we didn’t get the brunt of the storm we had a lot of tornadoes.

That particular storm is memorable to me because a tornado ripped through Auburn and Opelika, in a line that could have connected the dots of my grandmother’s home, my aunt’s home and our home. Yet, despite being in the direct line of this tornado, it touched down in Auburn, skipped over my grandmother’s house, then touched down again. As it approached my aunt’s house, it again lifted or veered but somehow missed her house. The same thing happened as it approached our home in Opelika, with the tornado leaving a path of destruction around our home, but sparing us. There is only one word for something like that, a miracle.

Opal came through when my first child was not even a year old. We were living in a mobile home at the time and had come into town to stay with my husband’s grandmother in her house. We escaped the night unscathed, listening to the radio for updates on how things were progressing out in the dark cold night.

We heard reports that a tornado had passed through the trailer park where we lived, so as soon as the storm had passed, my husband and I got in the truck to go check on the trailer. The tornado had demolished many of the homes out there, some were cut in half by fallen trees. Our trailer was fine, though we did notice that one of the trees that anchored the fence around our yard looked funny. Upon further inspection we realized the tree had been lifted roots and all out of the ground and then set back down in the hole left by its uprooting.

A couple who stayed with Granny Swope’s neighbors did not fare as well. They were living in a small home out on a section of road where there was not much cover and apparently it was not a sturdy home, so they came into town as we had. Their home and property out there were fine, but a tree in the yard of the home where they took shelter fell on their truck, totaling it. In fact, the tree fell lengthwise, buckling the cab and bed of the truck, and separating the two.

When Ivan came through I had only been in my Demopolis home for about a week, I had not even finished moving the furniture so I was sleeping on air mattresses on the floor. I don’t have any significant stories to tell about Ivan except that he made for one very wet, very miserable birthday.

Oh, and I almost forgot Chelsea, who nearly brought my baby girl with her. I was in the hospital with contractions the week before Chelsea came through, but went into pre-term labor the Friday before she made landfall on Sunday. I came home from the hospital and arrived at my mom’s house in Plantersville shortly before Chelsea made her march inland.

Gracie managed to wait another week before making her debut.

I’m sure there are other hurricanes I have been through, but those are the most memorable. I just pray that everyone made it through the hurricane safely and we were spared any major damage.