When the tornado outbreak began last Wednesday, hospitals across the region knew they would be in for a very busy day. And yet for some, what they saw was beyond their worst fears.
Alabama resident and survivor Reginald Epps suffered a punctured lung but was well enough to describe his family’s experience with the storm.
“The lights went out and the wind and the windows blew,” he said.
When the storm hit, Epps and his wife rushed to get their children out of harm’s way. “She grabbed the baby boy, I grabbed my middle boy…When I go to get R.J. off the top bunk, the walls and everything just go and my son go with it.”
Fearing the worst, thinking the tornado had taken his oldest son along with everything else, Epps and his wife clutched their other children and prayed aloud. Moments later, 8 year-old R.J. suddenly walked into view.
“I could see the shadow of him coming across and then finally kind of cleared up and I could see him,” Epps said.
Epps and his family were one of very few families who were lucky enough to not have any casualties. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for many people.
Over 800 patients were treated at the local hospital, some didn’t make it. The memories haunt Dr. Ramsey, one of the doctors on staff after the tornadoes hit.
“Our first victims were babies, literally 18 months, 2 year old babies, that were dead on arrival. And I had to go out and pronounce them in the ambulance bay, that I was not ready for,” she said.
As the number of dead rises, there is no accounting for the emotional casualties of this disaster, nor are there ready answers to the questions that haunt survivors.