Thursday, April 7, 2016

Early morning tornado left path of destruction in Evergreen two years ago

Damaged flagpole in front of Masonic lodge.
I was looking through some of my notes on Monday and saw where it was on this day two years ago – April 7, 2014 – that a tornado struck Evergreen and left a path of destruction 150 yards wide and three quarters of a mile long. The tornado, which made national news, touched down southeast of downtown Evergreen at 6:50 a.m. and left a path of destruction that began just east of South Shipp Street, in the vicinity of Smith Street, and ended just west of Upton Road. The tornado traveled in a northeasterly direction, and it’s believed that it lasted about one minute.

I remember the incident well because County EMA Director Johnny Brock, late Sheriff Edwin Booker, a host of other first responders and I were among the first on the scene. I spent several hours taking photos of the damage, and I was amazed by the destruction. Known damage from the tornado included damage to a vacant rental house on Smith Street, Greening Masonic Lodge on Edwina Street, Evergreen Medical Center, Hillcrest High School’s baseball field and vocational building on Jaguar Drive and Greasy Bottom Cemetery.

Winds from the tornado were so strong that they collapsed the flagpole in front of the Masonic lodge by bending the strong, metal pole at its base, and limbs were propelled so hard against the hospital building that two became impaled in one of the columns supporting the emergency room entrance’s roof. As the tornado traveled past the hospital, it crossed over Hillcrest’s baseball field and totally leveled one of the concrete block dugouts there.

If there was any bright side to this tornado, it was that it made more people aware of Greasy Bottom Cemetery. Prior to this storm, I’d never heard of it and since then a number of groups have carried out clean-up projects in the cemetery. Most recently, the local Disabled American Veterans chapter teamed up with Vocational-Agriculture students at Hillcrest to clean up the cemetery. No one knows for sure how many people are buried in Greasy Bottom, but its estimated that there are between 300 and 500 graves there, most of them unmarked.

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This week also marks the start of Confederate History Month, a month that’s been officially set aside by the State of Alabama to recognize and honor the history of the Confederate States of America. The high point of Confederate History Month is Confederate Memorial Day, which is the fourth Monday of each April in Alabama. This official state holiday is observed each year to honor those who died fighting for the Confederate States of America.

If you’re interested in Civil War history, you might want to check out the Battle of Selma reenactment, which will be held April 21-23 at Battlefield Park in Selma. This annual event commemorates a battle that took place on April 2, 1865, near the end of the war itself. The battle resulted in a Union victory about a month before the war’s official end on May 9 of that year. This year’s reenactment will mark the 151st anniversary of the Battle of Selma.

For more information about this year’s reenactment, visit

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