Tag Archives: april 27

2 Years Later…

April 27, 2011… a day long to be remembered and often discussed by those of us who bore witness to the utter destruction that nature leashed upon us. We had several days warning of the impending storms. The news media had tagged the weather forecast for that day as a set up for ‘the perfect storm’. No one in our town was immune. By day’s end, if you had not suffered some form of property damage, you knew someone who had. Hundreds of businesses across the city alone had been damaged, dozens within a four block radius destroyed. A greater number of homes, many over 100 years old, heavily damaged or completely obliterated. No favoritism was shown by the twisters that day as churches were reduced to rubble. Our streets were lined with ancient hardwoods that once faithfully took on the colors of each passing season creating a picturesque scene likened to a Thomas Kinkade painting. Folks across our city have mourned the passing of so many of our beautiful trees as our landscape was forever changed by an F4 tornado.

Southern Accents - damage following the tornado and weeks later.

Southern Accents – damage following the tornado and weeks later.

Southern Accents - 2013

Southern Accents – 2013

Downtown Cullman took a direct hit that day during a second wave of tornadic activity. The destruction was like nothing any of us had ever seen before. A war zone was the only proper description for the piles of rubble, scattered debris and unrecognizable terrain in the downtown area. As soon as the storms passed, the streets were filled with people. Friends and strangers alike immediately took action checking on the health and safety of everyone that was passing. The buzz of chainsaws filled the air as the many felled trees were quickly cut away in an attempt to clear a path for emergency and rescue workers. Strangers showed up to help business owners gather scattered goods. Storm warnings continued in to the night as word began to spread of the unimaginable destruction that was being levied across our state.

The days and weeks to follow showed proof of what we had known all along; our community spirit came together like never before. Our resolve was tested and we passed with flying colors. Those who managed to escape the storms unscathed worked side by side with those who had lost everything. It has been a long journey, but two years later, our city and the people who call it home is better for having weathered the storms. Although the landscape is forever changed, the downtown is coming back stronger than ever. After the storms, the City Council established design guidelines to help preserve the historical aesthetics of downtown Cullman as well as offered incentives to business owners to encourage revitalization. The revitalization effort, which was started well in advance of this fateful day, was actually jump started by the storms.

The Little Bit shop - a total loss

The Little Bit shop – a total loss

The All Steak opened the doors of it's brand new restaurant in March of 2013. The restaurant was built in the former location of the Little Bit shop.

The All Steak opened the doors of it’s brand new restaurant in March of 2013. The restaurant was built in the former location of the Little Bit shop.

Many businesses that were destroyed, like the Busy Bee Café, have rebuilt and reopened. Some, for various reasons, chose not to rebuild, giving way to new businesses in the downtown area. The Little Bit store, which suffered a complete loss, was one business that chose not to rebuild. Just last month, the All Steak restaurant opened it’s doors in Little Bit’s old location. The All Steak incorporated brick and other materials salvaged after the storm into it’s beautiful new building. Eastside Baptist and Christ Luthern Churches both suffered total losses on April 27th. Their rebuilding process is quickly coming to a close as both facilities are nearing completion and will be reopening their doors in the coming months. Although boarded up windows and blue tarps can still be spotted in the area, recovery efforts are around 95% complete.

Christ Lutheran Church - reduced to rubble

Christ Lutheran Church – reduced to rubble

Christ Lutheran Church - Re-construction process nearing completion 2 years later

Christ Lutheran Church – Re-construction process nearing completion 2 years later

As the two year anniversary draws near, still vivid memories will prompt stories that will once again be shared, stories of courage, kindness, sacrifice and perseverance. The face of our town looks different, most would say even better. As recovery efforts continue we are reminded that it is the people of Cullman, not the buildings, that make this a very unique and special place. We would not want to be anywhere else!

This pile of rubble was all that remained of Lee Powell Insurance Agency after the storms

This pile of rubble was all that remained of Lee Powell Insurance Agency after the storms

Lee Powell Insurance Agency  - 2 years after the storm.

Lee Powell Insurance Agency – 2 years after the storm.

Barkley Plumbing was one of the businesses on this block that was reduced to rubble.

Barkley Plumbing was one of the businesses on this block that was obliterated.

Barkley Plumbing rebuilt in the same location. The lot next door remains empty

Barkley Plumbing rebuilt in the same location. The lot next door remains empty

The Busy Bee Cafe reopened it's doors on the one year anniversary of the tornado that destroyed the original location.

The Busy Bee Cafe reopened it’s doors on the one year anniversary of the tornado that destroyed the restaurant.

The historical "Green House" suffered significant damage but thankfully was not a total loss

The historical “Green House” suffered significant damage but thankfully was not a total loss

"The Green House" was repaired and became the new home to The Candle Garden a year after the storms.

“The Green House” was repaired and became the new home to The Candle Garden a year after the storms.

Eerie reminders still remain 2 years later - buildings were marked as rescue workers went from building to building searching for survivors. No lives were lost in downtown Cullman.

Eerie reminders remain 2 years later – buildings were marked as rescue workers searched for survivors. No lives were lost in downtown Cullman that day.

Although blue tarps and boarded windows can still be found downtown, recovery efforts are 95% complete!

Although blue tarps and boarded windows can still be found downtown, recovery efforts are 95% complete!

Written by: Lisa Jones

Edited by: Garlan Gudger, Jr.


We call it the Green House

Cullman was hit by the tornados on April 27th, 2012.  A lot of lives were spared in our city. Buildings and homes did not fare so well. There are many houses that had to be demolished or just had to be scooped up and taken to the dump because of damage. Our little green house got pretty lucky. I wish I had an aerial view of how the tornado came through downtown Cullman. We saw it coming. We were warned. We heard about the one that came through Hanceville that morning. We were lucky. Most everyone decided to go home early that day. Schools were starting late and then decided not to go in at all. We saw what might be headed our way. We took cover.

We are building back. We are a fairly small community. Everyone helps everyone around here. All the time. This little green house was unoccupied during the storm. It was right on the outside edge of the tornado. Everything in front of it was destroyed. Everything. There was a little roof damage. We had to cover it with tarps quickly. Another storm was coming through days later.

It takes awhile to get through all the paperwork. It takes awhile to decide what you want to do. We are ready. We have been working on renovating. As you can see, it was a beautiful house.  It sat there with a story to tell. It had so much character and everyone knew exactly which house you were talking about when you said, “the green house”.

Now, we know it will never be the same. It will have new stories to tell. The siding is new, the windows are new.  A lot of the inside will be different. We are refinishing the doors to put back on. We have a great carpenter that loves Cullman. He takes a lot of pride in his work and pride in community. We are lucky to have him working on this project. Thanks Jim Burke!

This is what we do.  Most of the time, the houses we find can not be revived. There is too much damage or not enough money to restore the house. If ever we can make it what it once was, we always want to do that. We have customers come in all the time that are looking for a doorknob to match or a keyhole like they remember from their Grandma’s house. We are lucky to have those pieces. We are blessed when we can help them find the right match. I hope to continue with updates on our Green House. I have another post coming with the history behind it. Dr. Gudger gave me plenty of information! If you aren’t in love with it…..believe me, you will be!


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