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Tuscaloosa, Alabama: One Year Later


As National Severe Weather Preparedness Week comes to a close, the American Red Cross recalls the April 2011 deadly tornado outbreak that wreaked havoc in several southern states. This was the costliest outbreak that the Unites States has seen; it is also one of the costliest natural disasters in the country’s history. One year later, it remains a looming warning of what Mother Nature can unleash.

Alabama Tornado Anniversary

On April 27, 2011, a powerful EF-4 tornado roared through Tuscaloosa, Ala. demolishing large areas of the community that made national headlines. While several states experienced heartbreaking devastation from this tornado outbreak, Alabama was the hardest hit with nearly 10,000 homes damages or destroyed, and approximately half a million residents left without power.

“This is without question one of the worst disasters I have ever participated in,” said seasoned Red Cross disaster worker Anita Foster standing amid the destruction in Alabama. “Everywhere around you, you just see what’s left of people’s lives. This particular community was literally just blown to pieces by the storm.”

ERV driver Angie Morrison hands out meals in the Cedar Crest neighborhood of Tuscaloosa. Photos by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross

In the aftermath, the Red Cross provided nearly 8,000 overnight stays, served more than 1.4 million meals and snacks, and distributed nearly 27,000 cleanup kits and approximately 40,000 comfort kits.

Preparedness Saves Lives

One year later, these tornadoes serve as a poignant reminder for communities across the country to be prepared. With more days likely to produce tornado conditions and more areas likely to be affected by serve storms, the Red Cross is helping communities prepare for and respond to these severe storms.

Tornado season extends throughout June. It is important to take proactive preparedness steps to ensure the safety of individuals and families. Preparedness can help save lives. Be Red Cross Ready Checklist:

  • Know what emergencies or disasters most likely to occur in the community
  • Have a family disaster plan and have practiced it
  • Have an emergency preparedness kit
  • Have at least one member of the household trained in first aid and CPR/AED
  • Take action to help community prepare

Shop the Red Cross store to purchase items that will make a difference when a storm strikes, such as a Red Cross Solarlink emergency radio that can communicate lifesaving warnings when the power goes out or three-day emergency preparedness kit that includes survival items such as food bars, a flashlight and a first aid kit.