The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Tornado Outbreak 2011

August 25, 2011

Terror in T-Town: Local resident tells harrowing April 27 experience

— When Dr. Joe Cannon answered a cell phone call from his daughter on April 27, he heard the sounds of crashing and Lacey repeatedly screaming, “A tornado is coming.”

Then the line went dead.

It would be more than five nail-biting hours before Joe and Laurie Cannon could determine if Lacey, a freshman at the University of Alabama, was safe. Lacey lived in a home on Forest Lake off 15th Street in an area at the center of the devastation wrought by the EF4 tornado, one of 62 twisters to hit the state that day.

When Joe and Laurie got in the car for what would typically be a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Tuscaloosa to find their daughter, tornadoes also were criss-crossing Limestone County — and many other towns on their way to Tuscaloosa.

The drive traumatized Laurie. She lay across the back seat as Joe sat up front and their son, Jordan, 21, drove. A couple of times, they stopped to take shelter as tornadoes approached their route. Before leaving Athens, a massive EF5 twister began its tour of terror through Limestone County. The Cannons stopped at Valley Imaging, Dr. Cannon’s diagnostic center, and took shelter in the basement. When the twister passed, the group immediately got back in the car to head to Tuscaloosa.

Every path seemed to be blocked by downed power lines or trees or flooding. At one point, Laurie begged a state trooper to let them pass so she could get to her daughter. The trooper pointed to a downed power line across the road and said no one was getting through.

The group kept trying different routes until finally getting on Interstate 65.

All the while, Laurie wondered, “What has happened to Lacey?”

“My body could not stop shaking,” Laurie said.

The lake house

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Tornado Outbreak 2011
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