MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – The new year started off with a round of severe weather that led to tornadoes, flooding and destructive winds. An area that saw a significant amount of damage was Hazel Green.
As residents woke up on Sunday morning to no power, debris and downed trees one family recalled the experience and how they lost a part of their home that made it, unique.
Marce Smith, has been a resident of Hazel Green since 2015. Originally from New Jersey, Smith says she’s still not used to the weather.
“I was praying through the whole thing, I said, ‘Lord, please save us, don’t allow this tornado storm hit our home.’ Then the possibility of us losing our lives,” Smith told News 19.
Smith recalled being outside with her grandson and telling him, “It’s going to get bad, he asked me ‘how did I know.'”
Smith said between weather alerts and being weather aware she knew they had to get out of dangers way.
“I told my family, I said, ‘We need to run for cover.’ So, we all ran into our bathroom with the dog and five people, most of us sat on the floor, the others in the tub,” she described.
As the sun rose Sunday morning, community members could be seen picking up crates from the Walmart next door, kids toys and jungle gyms scattered all throughout different yards and dozens of trees snapped in half like weak toothpicks.
As crews worked through the night to restore power and move trees out of the way, Smith says what made their home unique didn’t survive. A magnolia tree that once stood over 20 feet tall and bloomed beautiful white flowers could be seen snapped in half and lying on the ground.
“Our beautiful magnolia tree is no longer a part of our home,” Smith said as her eyes welled up with tears.
Thankfully for the Smith family, there was no damage to the home and no one was injured during the storms. But, Smith said that the tree was not only part of a family ritual but it meant so much more to the family.
She explained, “You know when my husband would come home from work, he and our dog Tyson would stand underneath that tree together it was like a ritual and just pray, he enjoyed praying outside and just being in the atmosphere, they can’t do that anymore.”
While the Magnolia tree may no longer be standing Smith says it was her husband’s ritual, the family’s strong faith and the protection of the tree in which she believes kept her and her family safe.
“The roof is still standing and we thank God, that God looked after us,” she said.
Smith says maybe the family will plant another tree and start a new family tradition to signify strength and rebuilding.