Survivors share stories from 1989 Airport Road tornado

Survivors share stories from 1989 Airport Road tornado

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Friday will mark the 30th anniversary of the tornado that flattened Airport Road in Huntsville.

At 4:37 p.m. an F-4 tornado touched down near the Municipal Golf Course and headed east and consumed everything in its path..

The storm was estimated to be at one point 880 yards wide. It killed 21 people, left more than 400 injured and more than 500 homeless.

District 4 Councilman Bill Kling said a last second phone call to his apartment kept him indoors right before the tornado hit.

“The rain got heavier and heavier and heavier then wham! All of a sudden it hit," he said.

“The windows burst out, the wind was blowing like crazy, the power went out, and just my reflex, I just hit the deck.”

He said the close call made him stop and appreciate what he has.

Nearby, Madison County resident Chris Reed was driving to college.

He said the storm forced him into a friends house for shelter.

“The next thing we knew, on that scanner the channel stopped and one of the officers raised his voice and was yelling tornado inbound,” he said.

Reed now works for the Madison County EMA, and said it’s a reminder to be ready for the worst.

“[Storm preparation] is something we should do when the sun is shining, when it’s good weather outside. We can take small steps to get prepared.”

The 21 people killed in the tornado are honored at the intersection of Airport and Whitesburg Roads with a memorial.

Reed recommends gathering non-perishable food, batteries, and a weather radio to hopefully prevent future tragedies.

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