Renewed Faith Following Devastating Tornado

By:  Cyrondys D. Jackson

 

FULTONDALE, AL (July 20, 2022) -“If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, I’m gone,” said a panicked Francine Perryman over the phone, as she began to scramble trying to seek shelter inside the kitchen pantry of her home on New Castle Road, in Fultondale, Alabama. On the other end of the line was her sister, who had just called to tell her that another tornado was barreling her way.  

“I heard it coming, and it sounded like a freight train coming through the living room. I just folded my arms and closed my eyes, and I felt myself be lifted up. I flipped over a couple times, and I don’t remember nothing else. When I woke up, I was on the other side of the road.” 

A deadly EF-3 tornado swept its way through North Central Alabama the night of January 25, 2021. Winds from the storm peaked at 150 mph and caused considerable damage to more than 250 homes and 61 businesses in the City of Fultondale, according to Fultondale Deputy Fire Marshall, Jason Murrell. Murrell said more than 1,100 citizens were affected by the storm. 

Ms. Perryman’s experience was no different.  

“The whole house was torn down, and it looked like a war zone when I woke up. You couldn’t see a house nowhere around here,” said Perryman. 

As she slowly regained consciousness, Perryman’s focus was on her family- her son and daughter-in-law were also picked up by winds and dropped in wreckage and debris down the street from her home. Perryman was taken to a local hospital and treated for injuries she sustained in the storm, including a head injury that she says still affects her today. 

“I still have a little trouble remembering and a little trouble with my head,” she said. One thing Ms. Perryman does remember is the devastation of the storms that night. 

“I’ve lived in New Castle all my life, and this is the worst storm we have ever had.” 

A couple of miles away, Darrell Humphreys and his wife Margaret, stepped outside the front door of their home to survey the damage left behind. From their backyard, the couple watched as the storm zigzagged its way through the valley behind them. In disbelief, they watched as a funnel ripped buildings right off the foundation, snapped hundred-year-old trees in two, and dumped rain into their home.  

“The roof was just gone. I was just able to get her into the tub before it came through and just like that it was gone,” said Humphreys.  

Recovery seemed like a long and lonely road.  

In early February of 2022, more than one year later, Greater Birmingham Area Commander, Major Robert Lyle, and several men from the 614 Reveal group, canvassed the cities of Fultondale and Center Point, hoping to speak with survivors about financial assistance that was available for individuals impacted by the storm. With fliers in hand, they knocked on doors, peered through still shattered windows, and watched as neighbors continued to work on rebuilding as best as they could. 

As Major Lyle climbed the steps to a home to pray with a woman standing on her front porch, he couldn’t help but notice the blue tarp, flapping in the wind on her roof. Before walking away, he placed the flier into her hand and said, “Give us a call if you need us.” 

Thanks to a grant, tornado survivors in Fultondale and Center Point, may have qualified to receive assistance with repairs or replacing household items that were damaged or destroyed. 

For Ms. Perryman and Mr. Humphreys, the funds are helping them get back to normal. 

With a new home, comfortably situated where the old one once stood, there were a few finishing touches that her insurance didn’t cover.  

“Some of the survivors were talking on the phone one day, and someone mentioned that The Salvation Army could help. I called, and Mr. Cassanova came right on out,” said Perryman.  

New steps and a beautiful wooden deck were completed in June, and now Ms. Perryman says she can enjoy watching her grandchildren play with the dogs in the backyard. 

“I am still working to get it set-up like I want it, but I love being out here. I thank God for The Salvation Army because they came in and helped us right after the storm, and they’re still helping today,” she said.  

Mr. Humphreys now has the supplies and materials to begin the repair work on his home. He plans to rebuild a shed and replace steps on his porch that were destroyed. His new washer and dryer were delivered in May, and he said that this storm has helped to increase his faith. 

“I always believed in God, but now I believe more in God’s people, and how they will help you – they will find you to help you, like The Salvation Army did, and I am grateful for that,” he said. 

For more information on tornado recovery assistance, please call 205-328-2420.

 

For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens
And Your truth to the clouds.-Psalm 57:10