By Lora Scripps
Jennifer Pitts Adair was alone in her Capshaw home April 27, 2011, on what began as a normal day.
But, it was far from normal.
The day marked the end of one life and the beginning of another, according to Jennifer.
“I knew the weather was supposed to be severe, but honestly I live in Alabama so I didn’t really believe it,” she wrote in one of her first journal entries. “My dad lost his sister, niece, and nephew in the April 3, 1974 tornadoes in Tanner so I know the devastation tornadoes can cause. I just believed it would never get that bad again. I never imagined that by the end of that day, my family would be living another 1974, only this time, praise God, our family made it out alive.”
A documented 62 tornadoes touched down in Alabama that day claiming 253 lives. Seven tornadoes hit Limestone County. An EF5, the strongest and deadliest that day tracked across North Alabama and into Tennessee on a 132-mile path. A path that took the twister through Jennifer and husband Brandon’s home —where she lay huddled under blankets and pillows in her master bathroom closet, certain she was going to die. The tornado ripped the home apart around her.
When it finally ended nothing remained but the foundation Jennifer lay on. A pile of rubble surrounded her.
Although Jennifer was unaware at the time, the home where she grew up and where her parents Wayne and Joann Pitts lived, was also in the twister’s path and was destroyed.
For the next year Jennifer documented her family’s journey. “People kept asking me what happened that day because they couldn’t believe I was alive,” she said. “After I told it so many times, I decided to write it down and post it on Facebook.”
After she started receiving positive responses from friends and readers, her husband encouraged her to keep a journal. “He thought it would help me heal,” she said. “Someone told me later on that they couldn’t wait to read the book.” She decided she would continue the journal for a year.
Through her experiences, which were recently published in the book, “Sheltered By God: A Year in the Life of an April 27, 2011 Tornado Survivor,” Jennifer was able to invite others into her life. From that first dark day to the decision to relocate instead of rebuild, and the nightmares in between, Jennifer shares an intimate part of her life as a survivor.
In fact, the new home she and Brandon moved to in East Limestone was hit by the March 2 tornado. She documented that experience as well.
Jennifer said she has no plans to move. Limestone County is home. Although, she sometimes thinks the weather must follow her family. “That makes three generations,” she said.
“Sheltered By God: A Year in the Life of an April 27, 2011 Tornado Survivor” was recently self-published and includes 414-pages of Jennifer’s personal journal and photographs.
The paperback book is available on Amazon for $26.95 or by e-book for $3.99. Books are also available at Pablo’s on Market in Athens.
Jennifer is a software engineer for The Boeing Company and has a degree in computer science and mathematics from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She lives in Athens with her husband Brandon, six-month-old daughter Lily, who was born a month before the one-year anniversary of April 27, and their four cats.
To find out more about “Sheltered By God: A Year in the Life of an April 27, 2011 Tornado Survivor,” email Jennifer Adair at firstname.lastname@example.org.