Remembering the Prattville Tornado - February 17, 2008

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Virginia Madden, Buyer's Choice Realty, LLC (Prattville, AL)

Remembering the Prattville Tornado - February 17, 2008


It's just three years ago today that Prattville was hit with an EF3 tornado, with winds of 155 mph.  Tornadoes that strong are really rare here.  In fact, tornadoes that hit the ground are rare.  But when we do get one, we usually get EF0 or EF1 tornadoes.  Usually there are a few trees knocked over and maybe a roof or two damaged, but nothing too bad.

But this tornado was different.  This one was about a quarter of a mile wide.  The Prattville East neighborhood, which is essentially across the street and down a little ways from my office, was heavily damaged.  Other areas, including homes in the Highland Ridge and Overlook Estates subdivisions were also hit and damaged. There were injuries, in addition to the property damage, but thankfully no one was killed.

That night, the Prattville mayor imposed a curfew in order to keep everything under control. The next day it became clear to everyone just how much damage had been done.  That morning, the day after the storm hit, the Alabama Association of Realtors announced they would activate the Alabama Realtor Disaster Relief Fund, offering financial help to those who had suffered damage from the tornado that would pay for some of the costs not covered by their homeowner's insurance.

Once I heard that the Disaster Relief Fund was available, I printed out about 100 applications, put on my sneakers and a company t-shirt, and headed out into the neighborhood, intending to walk around for as long as possible and give applications to anyone I could find who needed one.  What I saw once I got into the damaged area just stunned me.


Photo 1 of Damage from Prattville Tornado 02/17/08

Photo 2 of Damage from Prattville Tornado 02/17/08














Photo 3 of Damage from Prattville Tornado 02/17/08

In the lower photo, the "1819 we survived" is painted on an interior wall.  The entire exterior of this house, with the exception of the small amount of brick on the left front corner, was completed destroyed.  The owners of the house were fortunately not hurt.


I met a lot of people that day.  Many of them had that dazed look that oftentimes shows up after a disaster.  I gave out a lot of hugs, and held more than a few people while they cried.  I also handed out all of the Disaster Relief Fund forms I had and told people how they could walk to my office to drop them off.  The next day I walked all around the same area and handed out about 50 more forms and gave out more hugs.


In the end, the Alabama Association of Realtors provided about $40,000 in Disaster Relief Funds to the people in Prattville hurt by the tornado.  Just over $30,000 of that was distributed through my office. I'm proud of that amount, because I'm proud to be an active part of the Prattville community and proud that my business is located here.  It truly was a priviledge to be able to assist those who needed help.


There were other people helping out as well.  One church operated as the central place to get help and supplies like water and food.  A moving company offered a month of free storage.  A pest control company offered free foundation treatment for houses that had to be rebuilt.  The Red Cross was there.  Volunteer church groups were there.  And neighbors helped neighbors as best they could.


When people ask me why I spent two entire days walking through the area making sure people knew about the Disaster Relief Fund and how to apply, I told them that, even though I didn't grow up in Prattville, this is my city.  And this area is my neighborhood.  When I opened my company, I located the office in an area where I could feel like a part of such a nice community.  I wanted roots here.  I wanted to be able to participate and be involved and contribute.


It's three years later now, and all of the damage is gone, all the houses are rebuilt, and all the debris is removed.  Although hearts still race a bit when severe weather comes through and the tornado sirens go off, people are, for the most part, back to normal and day-to-day living.  And, three years later, I still feel like I'm part of a nice community.  I have roots that no tornado could blow away.  I'm participating with and involved with and contributing to my community.  My community, my neighborhood, my city, my Prattville.


If you would like to live in a nice community like Prattville, you can start your search for homes on our website and then give us a call at (334) 358-7373.





All photos were taken by Virginia Madden and are copyrighted and owned by Virginia Madden.  Reproduction without permission is prohibited.


Remembering the Prattville Tornado - February 17, 2008



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Virginia Madden Buyer's Choice Realty


Virginia Madden

Qualifying Broker/Owner

Buyer's Choice Realty, LLC

696 N. Silver Hills Drive, Suite 115

Prattville, AL  36066




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Jon Quist
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996

February is an unusual month for tornadoes. I used to live in Independence, MO., right in tornado alley, and we didn't "worry" until May, usually.

We moved back to Arizona, where tornadoes are banned, right after a tornado about a half mile wide hit just west of us, in Ruskin Heights, KS. It lifted up before it got to us, but it would have hit where we lived had it stayed on the ground. So mom just packed up the kids, me included, and the belongings, and left!

This happened on May 20th, 1957. It was an F5 category, and 44 people were killed, including a close friend of my mother's. We left and never looked back.

Feb 17, 2011 07:10 PM #1
Ann Allen Hoover
RE/MAX Advantage South - Hoover, AL
CDPE SRES ASP e-PRO Realtor - Homes for Sale - AL

Virginia, even though I've lived here all my life I've never seen a tornado.  We have certainly had some bad ones come through here though.

Feb 18, 2011 01:57 AM #2
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