The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Tornado Outbreak 2011

November 26, 2011

Six months later: 'God Saved 6' dad recounts afternoon of April 27 twister

Editor’s Note: Two days after the April 27 tornado outbreak, News Courier Managing Editor Kelly Kazek and photographer Kim Rynders drove along the path of the storm, recording stories and taking photos. They crossed into Madison County and came across a striking image: Framed by a brilliant blue sky, a demolished home bore a plywood sign: “God Saved 6 Here Behind These Walls.” The photo Rynders snapped with clouds radiating behind the home was published in numerous places, including on The Associated Press wire, and on the cover of a publication by the Alabama Press Association. This is the story behind the photo.

It was an almost evil-sounding hiss that told Brian Reeves his family was in imminent danger.

He had stepped from the relative safety of the bathroom into the hallway of his Harvest home to look for the family dog, Roscoe, when he heard it — the sound of high-pressure winds forcing entry through the home’s otherwise undetectable nooks and crannies.

“I knew exactly what it was,” he said. “I jumped back into the bathroom and shut the door.”

Inside the tiny space, Brian joined his wife Rhonda, his children — Meagan, 23, Halee, 19, and Hunter, 17 — and a neighbor Chaylin Ortiz, 16.    

“I told them to get down and put their heads between their knees,” he said. “I told them, ‘Guys, this is real.’”

When the winds finally stopped that April day almost six months ago, the family faced a new reality — their home on Old Eli Road was destroyed by the EF5 tornado that swept through Limestone and Madison counties. It killed four people in Limestone County and nine in Madison County; 247 died statewide.

The tornado was one of seven that struck in Limestone on April 27. Sixty-two twisters touched down statewide, and 214 around the country.

The home of the Reeves, who now live in Limestone County, was one of as many as 300 destroyed in Madison County. Another 700 homes were damaged or destroyed in Limestone County.

Text Only
Tornado Outbreak 2011

A recent national telephone survey found 75 percent of respondents believe the sale and use of pot will eventually be legal nationwide. Do you think marijuana should be legal in Alabama?

No, but I don’t think pot smokers should go to jail
Yes, but only for medical use
Yes, but only for personal adult use
     View Results
AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee