The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Tornado Outbreak 2011

December 28, 2011

Top Stories of 2011: Strange twists of April 27


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Wrangler jeans a message from 90 miles away

When Pastor George Whitten and his wife Virginia were surveying the grounds of Fairview Baptist Church, Virginia came across a pair of brand new Wrangler jeans blown there by an April 27 tornado.

George realized the jeans had come from the Wrangler distribution plant VF Corp. in Hackleburg, about 90 miles away. The plant was leveled by the same twister that traveled into Limestone County and killed four people here. Linda Knight, the only employee killed inside the plant that day, had been a member of Antioch Baptist Church when George was pastor there.

When he made the connection, George was struck by an unusual sensation.

“All of a sudden, it dawned on me that’s where Linda was when she got killed,” he said. “It was sort of like Linda sent me a little message and said goodbye, Brother George.”

George took the debris-spattered pants and wrote a message on one leg, “We’re praying for your family and we love you. From Fairview Baptist Church.”

Then, each of the congregants signed the jeans. George, who attended the funeral service for Knight, 57, in Hackleburg, took the jeans and presented them to her husband Roger and son, Rodney, who is an Alabama State Trooper.

In the days after this story appeared in The News Courier, people called from all areas of the county to report finding Wrangler jeans of all sizes with the tags still on them.

Coupon caught between wall, roof

Many victims of the storms reported homes being picked up and set down on foundations, or rotated on foundations. Gary England, who lived on Eastland Drive, showed a News Courier reporter where a necklace lay on the carpet, caught between the floorboard and wall. A drawing by his grandchild and a coupon were caught between the wall and ceiling, where the roof had lifted and come down, trapping the blowing objects. England was in the home with his wife, Dianne, and their son and daughter-in-law, Andrew and Angela England, and their Labrador retriever, Maddy. All were unharmed but the brick home was heavily damaged.

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Tornado Outbreak 2011


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