April 27th, 2011, was a day Cullman Countians, along with much of the state of Alabama, will remember for a lifetime. We all knew the potential for strong to severe storms were possible throughout the day, but no one could imagine the wrath mother nature was about to have her way within the South.
As most people were waking up getting ready for work, the storms were already approaching Cullman. A significant storm (EF-2) rolled through the City of Hanceville, causing damage, but the worse was yet to come. Schools were delayed for the day, some businesses closed for the day or at least closed early, but reality never crossed the minds of many.
Later in the afternoon, around 2:40 P.M., a tornado touched down near Smith Lake before making its way into Cullman, where much of the day’s damage occurred. The EF-4 tornado would rip businesses to shreds, topple trees, throw vehicles, and tragically take lives. Sixty-two tornados would touch the ground during the super tornado outbreak in Alabama, while four touched down right here in Cullman.
The aftermath was tragic, no doubt, but there is a silver lining to the destruction. Although April 27th, 2011, was a day many hope never happens again nor wants to remember, the bond it brought to the citizens will always be greater than the material items lost. People set aside their differences to help their neighbors, friends, and even enemies. It was almost as we needed a wake-up call to show compassion and love to our neighbors. Heaven and Earth came together and gave us a taste of what God’s kingdom would be like with everyone loving on each other and helping thy neighbor.
It has been ten years since that tragic day, and parts of Cullman look a little different as businesses had to rebuild, homes had to be repaired or rebuilt, and the impact of the mental visions in people’s lives needed mending. The four tornados in Cullman may have been destructive. The sixty-two tornados that swept across Alabama may have taken lives while destroying millions of dollars in structures. God’s plan was more extensive in the end. We can dwell on the past and live with the anxiety of storms, or we can choose to give the glory of that tragic day and days after to the one who pulled us all out of a hellacious day and in return made our little Cullman community victorious.