BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Darryl and Jackie Gordon know how powerful and devastating storms can be Saturday night the couple had to make a decision between staying home and going to a storm shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic as strong storms were expected the following day.
”It was August 29, 2005... and a tree fell on the roof of the bedroom,” Jackie Hill-Gordon recalled.
The remnants of Hurricane Katrina displaced the couple from their home in Tuscaloosa for months.
“Our roof actually did collapse,” she added.
Then on April 27th 2011, Mother Nature struck again.
“You could hear people screaming, ‘help me’. People yelling for family members,” she said.
With her husband at work, Hill-Gordon sought refuge in an interior hallway, weathering one of the most devastating tornado outbreaks in the states history.
Unable to drive home because of the debris blocking the roads Mr. Gordon said he walked for miles.
“I couldn’t recognize anything because everything had blown away,” he said. “It was a traumatic experience for me because I think right after that I’ll begin to suffer with depression for a while until things came back together,”
Tuscaloosa, the city he grew up in, was one of the hardest hit areas. Their home not escaping the storms fury.
“When I hear glass popping, that’s one other thing that bothers me because I remember the windows being blown out of the front part of my house, “ she said.
Just weeks out from the 9th anniversary of those deadly tornadoes, the Gordon’s bracEd for severe weather Sunday, all while weathering another type of storm, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like thousands of other families, the Gordon’s had to choose: stay at home or go to a community storm shelter where social distancing would be difficult to maintain.
The Gordon’s chose to take their chances at home.
“I will not go to a storm shelter because of COVID-19,” said Jackie Hill-Gordon.
“Even after all you’ve been through after the damage you have seen?“ we asked.
“No... no,”she replied.
The Gordon’s said they feel secure at home. They had helmets, weather radios, and other equipment at the ready in case they should need them.
The Tuscaloosa County EMA posted a message on their Facebook page saying you should protect yourself from your greatest threat first and during a tornado warning that threat is a tornado. The bottom line, seek the best possible shelter and if you choose to go to a community shelter, wear a mask and practice social distancing as much as possible.