Bluff Park community comes together for cook who lost everything in tornado

Updated: Feb. 3, 2021 at 5:53 PM CST
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HOOVER, Ala. (WBRC) - A Hoover community is coming together to rally behind a family who lost everything in the tornado.

Rod Bonner has been the head cook at the Bluff Park Diner for almost two decades, but he says losing everything is showing him just how much he is loved.

“Rod was here when I bought the diner. I was really fortunate to have a person like Rod here,” Rod’s boss, Brett Hubbard, owner of Bluff Park Diner.

Rod’s skills in the kitchen, and his kindness to everyone who comes in, has survived through three different owners.

“He’s never met a stranger and he’s very genuine, and if anybody needed help he’s always there, he’s the rock of the diner,” says Hubbard.

Last week when Rod called his boss to say his family lost their home, everyone rallied to help.

“Once that night hit, I thought my life was over. I don’t know how I am going to make it. I lost everything I own,” says Rod, fighting back tears. “(The) Bluff Park community have shown so much love. Everyone came to my rescue, that’s how I feel.”

Rod and his family barely survived as the tornado tore their house apart around them.

“We heard the tornado sirens, we ran downstairs,” says Rod.

As he and his son took cover, his girlfriend ran back up to grab her purse and phone.

“By the time she came downstairs it was on top of us. Once she closed the door, the house started shaking. the steps started shaking and she was screaming,” he says shaking. “We all got on our knees and got by the wall and put the headboard over our heads and about that time all hell broke loose. That was the worst 30 seconds of my life.”

In those 30 seconds, their entire house was destroyed.

“Every pipe in the basement burst. We were outside by the end, because the roof and house was gone,” says Rod.

Once they managed to climb out of the rubble, what they saw, was terrifying.

“We were watching everybody coming out of the house with broken arms, broken legs.”

Rod says as they stood there in the rain with nowhere to go, his boss from the diner showed up.

“My boss came to Fultondale, parking miles away and got out and walked to us. Brought me a backpack, jackets, even gave us the jacket off his back. We were soaked. He was there every step of the way,” Rod explains.

“I wanted to let people know what happened, so we put a sign in the diner, to let people know they were okay, and if people wanted to help they could,” says Hubbard.

Since then, donations have been pouring in.

“I have been getting all the blessings and donations and the Bluff Park Community, I thank them a whole lot. They really have had my back. Thank God that he had his hands over me and my family. It’s a blessing to still be breathing and sit here and talk to you right now. Just blessed,” he says.

Rod loves his job so much, he returned to work two days after the tornado. They are now staying with family, but are looking for a new place to live.

If you want to help them, donations are being accepted at the Bluff Park Diner, or through their Facebook page:

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