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Tuscaloosa recalls devastating tornado 21 years later

Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 5:06 PM CST
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - Everyone remembers the tornadoes that devastated Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011, but a few years before that there was the 2000 twister, an F-4 monster that struck near Shelton State College. In fact, it hit 21 years ago Thursday. That’s when 11 people died and well over 100 people were injured.

The tornado on December 16, 2000, left its calling card in more ways than one. It went down in history as the deadliest tornado in the country that year. It struck in the middle of the day on a Saturday.

Earlier that morning Ken Horst, a retired paramedic, just had a feeling it was going to be bad day. He was right.

“It was extremely muggy and I commented to my wife ‘this has a bad feel to it’,” said Horst.

The storm hit hard, striking homes near Shelton State, tearing up a Winn Dixie shopping center before landing a devastating blow to the Bear Creek mobile home park, the very scene where most of the fatalities came from.

“When it scattered or spread over multiple miles the management of the resources responding was overwhelming,” he said.

And yet, it could’ve been worse. Horst noted the fact it happened in the middle of the day which meant a number of people were out Christmas shopping, not at home in the middle of night.

“It was catastrophic as it was, it could’ve been worse with a higher death toll,” said Horst.

What happened 21 years ago proved a tornado can strike anywhere, anytime in this part of the country... as Tuscaloosa has come to know all so well.

On that same day in 2000, another tornado struck St. Clair, Etowah and Cherokee Counties.

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