F5 Tornado Oak Grove, Alabama

Copyright ã 1998 by Minor Publishing House

PAGE 1 * PAGE 2 * Fujita Scale

    On April 8, 1998 an F5 tornado came through western Jefferson County, Alabama leaving a trail of destruction 26 miles long and 1 mile wide. I was one of the lucky ones the path missed my house about 6 blocks. My family was huddled in the corner of the basement for safety.

    The storm changed many lives forever, and killed 32 people. As a public service employee  who knew the area well I was assigned to help take the FEMA officials who came in from Washington around to assess the damage. Part of their assignment was to take pictures to document and assess the damage. They and I took hundreds of pictures for the next three days. To see some of them please scroll down. Any comments would be appreciated. Mick Lindley, Birmingham, AL

    This picture tells a heartbreaking story. This is on Yukon Street in McDonalds Chapel. This street had 18 houses, all were destroyed. In the words of a FEMA official "I'm going to take this picture back to Washington to show them how people in Alabama handle things". I don't think anyone was shot but the message was clear.

    Notice the house to the right. It looks OK in the picture but it is actually shifted on its foundation by several feet. Four people were in this house. Miraculously they only suffered minor injuries. The storm destroyed almost 1000 houses. It is amazing more people were not killed.

    This house was completely destroyed and most of it carried miles away. Some victims still have a sense of humor. Look closely at the sign over the steps. It says, "maid wanted".

    On a more serious note one community has built a memorial to the tornado victims. This is located at the new Concord fire station. The old one was destroyed by the tornado.

    This is what is left of Oak Grove high school. As you can see it was completely flattened. A new school was built at another site. The gym area pictured above is the site where some cheerleaders were located during practice. Amazingly when the roof fell a wall held one side of it up and as a result they were spared and only had minor injuries.

    This aerial photo is of Edgewater, AL and is a short section of the 32 mile path of devastation made the the tornado. Everything is blown away in a storm like this including street signs. As a public service employee who worked this area for years I was on the scene in this very spot. At one time I got a call asking what street I was on, I couldn't tell them. I had to go to the nearest main street I was sure of and count the streets off on my map book. 

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