April 27, 2011, is a day few will forget. That day is sketched in the minds of those who lived through it. In total, 62 tornados touched down across the state. There were 240 causalities that day, six from Elmore County.
While 10 years have passed since that day, the memories are still very vivid for one Elmore County family. Amber Tucker and her family lived near Kowaliga and took a direct hit from the F4 tornado that first touched down in Wetumpka.
Tucker says that day began like any other day.
"The morning of April 27th started off just like every other morning, nothing different," Tucker said. "As the evening came about, the storm started raging but I didn't think twice about it."
Tucker went about her normal routine throughout the day, which included watching television with her mother who lived nearby.
"That night I went to my mom's to watch American Idol as we have a tradition of watching it together," she said. "I left Mike (her husband) and the boys at home. Everyone was in bed asleep by 7 o'clock."
However, it would not be long before this routine day turned into anything but ordinary.
"It was about that time that we heard that there was a tornado on the ground near Wetumpka headed for Santuck and Central," Tucker said. "I still at this point was not too worried because I've never experienced a tornado and I figured it was just going to blow on by and not produce anything near us."
Airing on the side of caution, Tucker went home to warn her husband and children. The family then went back to Tucker's mother's house to seek sturdier shelter from the storm.
"Mike took the weather more seriously than I did. He was concerned. So we got the kids and my mom in her hallway in the center of her house. We put pillows and blankets down and made the children and mom stay in there," she said.
The couple then watched and waited for the worst.
"It started getting loud outside so Mike and I ran to the hallway got under the covers with the kids and my mom and as soon as we got under there the storm was so loud that it was deafening," she recalls. "The only thing I could think of was to hold everybody's hand and pray as loud as I could. I wanted the kids to hear my prayers over the storm."
The family took a direct hit from the massive tornado. They were pelted by dirt and debris and Tucker's youngest son was lifted off the ground by the twister.
According to Tucker, the sound of the twister as it made its way through their home, is a sound that will she will forever remember.
"The sound of trees breaking in and glass breaking, is a sound I will never forget," she said.
After the tornado passed, the family realized the house they took shelter in was gone. Only the walls surrounding the hallway that sheltered the family during the storm were left standing.
"As we stood up and looked around we noticed that the only thing standing was the hallway that we were in," she said. "My mother's home was a split-level two-story brick home. It was a sturdy home but this storm didn't care. As we tried to find our way around the rubble to our neighbors to check and see if they're ok, we were in disbelief that there was nothing there. The power lines were down right in front of our house and we're sparking so I kept the kids near. The rest of that night is a blur."
They found shelter that night and the following day went to assess the damage.
"All the windows in my home we're busted out," Tucker said. "It was split in half and lots of our furniture was nowhere to be found.
Despite losing so much, Tucker remained thankful.
"It was complete devastation but I still had my family," she said.
Tucker hopes their story will move others to be better prepared for severe weather.
"We now take weather very seriously," she said "We have weather radios and weather apps on our phones. When there's a tornado watch we go ahead and prepare. We make sure that everyone has shoes, a blanket, a pillow, a helmet, and flashlights already in the closet that we will go in if there is a tornado warning."
Today, the Tucker family lives in Kent. While they endure devastation on April 27, 2011, they are thankful to have survived that day.
“10 years later, we still take the same precautions and it never gets any easier when there is a tornado warning nearby. My youngest, Jett, doesn't remember anything from that day and I'm grateful for that,” she said.