The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Tornado Outbreak 2011

August 25, 2011

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


Finding Lacey

On the interstate, Joe, Laurie and Jordan were still frantically trying to get to Lacey. Near Cullman, when another tornado was approaching, Laurie had received an unusual — and welcome — text message from a stranger in New York who had received a message from someone in Tuscaloosa that Lacey was injured but would be fine.

Though relieved, the Cannons remained determined to reach their daughter.

It was about 10:30 p.m. when they reached Tuscaloosa. The scenes of devastation were overwhelming.

Because of blocked roads — 15th Street was one of the most damaged areas — the Cannons parked about a mile from the house and began walking, bringing a chainsaw with them to cut trees and limbs blocking their path.

“When we got to the lake area, there was enough light to see the reflection of the lake and we could see all this debris in the water,” Laurie said. “I saw refrigerators in the water, bobbing up and down. It was eerie.”

Lacey had been taken from the scene by a friend, but returned after dark to see if her parents found a way through.

“I was walking over trees and around cars,” Lacey said. “I had no idea where I was. I was just trying to go in the direction I thought my house was because there were no street lights and nothing looked the same.”

Finally, as she approached the area where she thought her house had been, Lacey heard Laurie calling her name.

By the time the Cannons got to Lacey, she was covered in mud and insulation, and her face was bleeding, but she was otherwise unharmed. The dog, Mikey, was also unharmed.

That wasn’t the case for 47 people who were killed in Tuscaloosa on April 27. Countless pets died or were displaced, as well.

Lacey was happy to be alive, and to find her family safe and sound.

“I had the biggest sense of relief and assurance,” she said. “I was so happy to see them.”

Lacey decided not to return to the University of Alabama this semester. She enrolled at Calhoun Community College and will wait to see how the future unfolds, she said.

“When my house was destroyed there was no doubt in my mind” she would come home, Lacey said.


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Tornado Outbreak 2011


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