HARVEST, Ala. (WHNT) – After the April 2011 tornadoes, more than 14,000 homes throughout the state were unavailable. Harvest was one of those hard hit areas after an EF-5 tornado tore through it.
That tornado nearly hit the Anderson Family’s neighborhood of Charleston Square.
When the time came last year for the family to buy a bigger house, they had to decide if they were willing to stay in the area.
“We had talked about [moving] off Zierdt Road, like in the Reserve, because our neighborhood’s builder built there also and it would be really close for my husband to go to work and everything,” said Shawn Anderson.
The Andersons had lived in the Harvest community for more than six years, which lead them to decide to stay close by. They closed on their new house last September. It was less than three miles from their old home.
“We do like the country feel and the wildlife and everything from out here,” said Anderson. “I didn’t fear being up here.”
The Andersons aren’t the only ones buying in Harvest. Statistics from the North Alabama Multiple Listing Service show that over the last three years, the Harvest-Monrovia area showed the biggest gain in number of sales in Madison County at nearly 20%.
All this despite the stigma by some as tornado alley. Though it seems as if Harvest is a tornado magnet, there is no scientific proof yet that tornadoes follow a path.
“At this point, we don’t have enough evidence to really conclude whether or not real corridors exist, whether it’s systematic or just random,” said Atmospheric Science professor Kevin Knupp.
He said it’s a question that will take years to answer, so in the meantime, the Andersons stay prepared in case severe weather hits. They keep extra bottled water around and have a generator and a chainsaw on hand.
They also made sure to have a safe place to go in their new home.
“We actually had them add underneath the stairs,” said Anderson. “It was a small closet and we had them go and build it deeper so we could all fit in there.”
In there they also store extra flashlights and lanterns, as well as all of their important family documents.
They stay weather aware, but they won’t let tornadoes dictate their lives.
“You can’t live in fear, I mean it can hit anywhere,” said Anderson.
Of the homes sold in the Harvest-Monrovia area since April 27th, 2011, more than one-third of them have been new builds, like the Andersons’ new home. Many builders in the area offer storm shelter installation as an option.