By: Allyson Holliday, W.S. Hoole Library Complex Copy-Cataloguer
Today’s feature will be the first of a series of monthly updates from the cataloging department of the Division of Special Collections featuring new acquisitions and items from the published materials collections.
As staff members in special collections, we are used to documenting the history of our state. The Alabama Collection strives to be a comprehensive collection of all books by Alabamians, about Alabama, and/or published in the state of Alabama. The Alabama Collection continually grows and includes University of Alabama publications and copies of all books published by the University of Alabama Press.
On Wednesday, April 27, 2011, a F-4 tornado ravaged the city of Tuscaloosa and surrounding areas in the county. For those unaware of the tornado’s impact on the area, consider the following information provided by the city of Tuscaloosa:
- The tornado, more than a mile wide, touched down at 5:13 p.m. on April 27, cutting a 5.9-mile path of destruction and killing 53 people (including 6 UA students).
- 12 percent of Tuscaloosa was destroyed. In six minutes, 7,000 people became unemployed.
- Over 1,200 people were treated at DCH Regional Medical Center the night of the storm.
- 5,362 residential structures were affected by the storm. 2,493 were damaged, 1,612 were severely damaged and 1,257 were destroyed.
- 356 commercial structures were affected by the storm. 178 were damaged, 64 were severely damaged and 114 were destroyed.
The University of Alabama campus narrowly escaped the destruction. However, many UA employees and students were impacted. The tornado aftermath and debris clean up led to the cancellation of final exams and a delay in graduation ceremonies.
All student-athletes at The University of Alabama were accounted for by the next day, with only one UA athlete hospitalized in the aftermath of the tornado. Carson Tinker, a long snapper on the UA football team, sustained a broken wrist, cuts and bruises from debris, and a concussion. He was the only one of the 606 UA student-athletes who was hospitalized. His girlfriend, Ashley Harrison, tragically lost her life in the storm. She was at his house when the tornado hit. UA head football coach Nick Saban told ESPN that Tinker was thrown about 50 yards when his house was hit by the tornado.
Carson Tinker, who now plays in the NFL for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tommy Ford, the Assistant Athletics Director at UA, recently published A Season To Remember: Faith in the Midst of the Storm detailing the impact of the storm and the healing process, including the Crimson Tide’s back to back 2011/2012 emotional football national championship seasons. In the foreword, head coach Nick Saban recounts “one of the proudest moments” he’s had as a coach, which was when Carson Tinker and the 2011 football team were recognized with the Disney Spirit Award at the ESPN Awards Show.
Lars Anderson, of Sports Illustrated, also published a book on “the moving story of how a shared tragedy inspired a college football dynasty” (dust jacket). In The Storm and the Tide, he details the role of the Alabama football team and other UA athletes in the recovery and rebuilding efforts in Tuscaloosa.
“Roll Tide” has been The University of Alabama’s rallying call for years – but after 4-27-11, it became the rallying cry for a community recovering from tragedy. The common bond of the community’s love for UA football, and those UA football players and coaches sharing the grief and aiding in recovery, are a true testament to the resiliency of the human spirit. The building of a college football dynasty and the resurgence of Tuscaloosa went hand in hand.
So far, two films have been produced about this storm. Tornado Rampage 2011, by Discovery Education and found under Hoole Library DVDH 7 discusses how,”in just three days in April of 2011, over 300 tornadoes battered the United States in one of the most extreme weather events in history.” April’s Fury: Tornadoes in Alabama – an intimate journal, April 27th, 2011, created by Fox 6 WBRC – Birmingham, investigates what became “one of the deadliest and most devastating tornado outbreaks in history.” After all, the Tuscaloosa tornado was only one of “more than 60 tornadoes” in Alabama that, in total, “kill[ed] more than 240 people, injur[ed] thousands, and destroy[ed] tens of thousands of homes.” This film includes videos from storm chasers as well as footage of recovery efforts (Fox 6 promotional advertisement).