Madison Co. EMA Officer Reflects on Storm Preparedness

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) -- Once you experience something like April 27th, 2011, you never take anything for granted again. That means city and county leaders know they have to take every precaution when it comes to keeping their residents safe during severe weather. They prepared for the worst earlier this week, but hoped for the best.

"They showed up on Monday, everybody really showed up," said Paige Colburn, an officer with the Madison County Emergency Management Agency. "It was probably the most people we've had in the emergency operations center since 2011, it was just standing room only and huge quantities of people."

Colburn said people took it very seriously and emotions ran high. The severe weather event was so close to the 3rd anniversary of April 27th.  "The emotional energy ran the gambit, people who have been through it before had sort of an intense resolve to not have to go through it again, and for it to not be as bad."

Beyond the doors of the EMA, there was a collective sigh of relief on Monday. It was encouraging to hear the National Weather Service say that Monday's storms were not going to resemble a super tornado outbreak.  "Super tornado outbreaks are sort of once in a life time events," she said. "So they were repeatedly telling us you know this isn't a 1974 or 2011, this is more reminiscent of just a bad storm system.'

But still, lives were lost. Homes were destroyed. Businesses were flattened. Colburn said she's just thankful it's not an exact replica of the destruction Alabama saw 3 years ago.

"You get ready for it, and you see what happens," she said. 'There were some very tragic situations with this storm system but like I said, I'm quoting some of the articles that I've read that refer to it as a 'miracle,' it could have been a lot worse."