Monday morning surprise

Published 7:49 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Normally, this space is reserved for my thoughts in sports.

When I sat down to write this week’s column, all I could think about was Monday.

Monday marked a day that I never thought I would ever see. I never thought I would see the community where I was born and raised  having to pick itself up like it just got knocked out in a prize fight.

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A EF-3 tornado moved through my hometown of Clay between 4 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. destroying homes and taking memories that people had built their for years.

It also took a life in 16-year-old Christina Nicole Heichelbech. I never knew the young lady, but I’m sure the news hit hard with all of her family and friends. When I read her father’s account of what happened, my heart just broke.

When things like this happen, the thought always pops into our minds, what if it comes through our town?

I was in Birmingham for the weekend and I knew the threat of severe weather was coming, so I made sure that my family and I left early enough to miss any of the rain or storms.

On my way down the interstate, I thought what if something happens near my home like happened last April in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. I quickly shook off the thought and figured that it would not happen.

Little did I know that at      6 a.m. Monday morning, I would be making a frantic phone call to my parents to find out if they had made it through the storm.

My wife, Stephanie, was listening to the reports through a radio application on her phone and heard their road was a mess.
They were lucky. The entire neighborhood I grew up in was lucky. The tornado missed them all by a quarter of a mile maybe less.

My parents have two downed trees, but no damage to their home.

A friend that my dad was in the Coast Guard in lives in the neighborhood through the woods. He was awoken by his wife as the windows in his house burst into pieces. “It looks like a bomb went off inside his house,” my dad said.

Hearing all of this and seeing the countless photos on Facebook and news Web sites put everything into perspective.

I wish I could have been there in the intial stages to help with the clean up around the community. I look forward to going to help sometime in the coming weeks.

Until then, I’ll keep saying my prayers and watching for updates on how Clay rebuilds.

Chandler Myers is sports editor of the Atmore Advance. He can be reached at 368-2123 or by e-mail at