Harvest residents clean up storm damage, look back to tornado outbreak of 1974

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HARVEST, Ala. (WHNT)-- On April 4, 1974, people in the Tennessee Valley were cleaning up after a tornado outbreak.

An F-5 tornado hit the Harvest and Capshaw areas, and later, an F-3 tore through the City of Huntsville and others damaged parts of Franklin, Morgan, Limestone and Lincoln counties the evening of April 3 and the morning of April 4, 1974.

On the anniversary of that outbreak in 2015, the valley braced for another storm. Thankfully, it was of a different, and much lesser, caliber.

"A lot of wind. Lightning. Rain. Didn't sound like anything but just a normal storm. But then when we got up this morning and started looking around, there's trees down everywhere," recalled Doug Edwards.

His home on Harvest Road was in the middle of a small cell of strong straight-line winds, the National Weather Service has reported.

"I had a little bit of shingle damage. I had a pool torn up, rolled into a ball [in the backyard,]" said Edwards. "I'm glad it wasn't anything serious. There's nobody hurt. Trees will regrow. Things can be fixed."

We asked HEMSI Chief Operating Officer Don Webster about the 1974 outbreak, to help us compare and contrast the two weather events.

"It was devastating," he commented.

But he said much has changed since then to make things safer should another event like the one 41 years ago, take place again.

"With weather alert radios and Nixles and all the different apps you can get on your smart phones," he said, "[notifications] are better."

From a medical response side of things, he said it's also improved.

"We're prepared. We know it's coming. We carry extra equipment. We bring in additional personnel," he said.

Many out there in the Tennessee Valley may be cleaning up their yards this time around, but they're thankful the storm was nothing like the 1974 outbreak.