By Gary Lloyd
Will Reed and his nearly 2-year-old daughter, Tatum Bleu, were asleep on his and wife Tiffanie Reed’s bed about 3:45 a.m. Jan
. 23, 2012, when the windows began to shake.
Tiffanie, four months pregnant with the couple’s second child, was in another bedroom, asleep after writing a paper. The shaking windows woke her up. By the time she got off the bed and ran into the hallway, the windows had blown out. She made it to the hall bathroom, in the pitch black, and curled by a bathtub and buried her head downward while calling out for Will and Tatum. They didn’t answer.
Cold rain and whipping winds were felt inside what was left of the home on Marchester Circle in the Georgebrook neighborhood in Clay. The sound was comparable to a busy subway. It took 15 seconds for the EF-3 tornado to rip the whole house apart.
“It seems like a lifetime when it’s happening,” said Tiffanie, who owns Ta Tumble U in Trussville.
It took 10 to 15 minutes to hear neighbors’ voices calling. When Tiffanie was helped from her toppled home, Will was walking toward her. Her shoeless husband, who works at Legacy Credit Union, told her Tatum was OK and was at a neighbor’s house, being sheltered from the rain.
The Reed home was made of brick. When the windows blew out and walls began to crack, the mattress Will and Tatum were sleeping on was picked up and flipped over, trapping the two underneath. The front of the home then collapsed on top of the father and daughter. Both eventually slipped out from under the debris, uninjured, protected by thick foam.
“That’s a miracle,” Tiffanie said.
Tiffanie eventually made it to a hospital, where it was determined no extra stress had been placed on the couple’s unborn baby. The family spent two weeks in a hotel. The Reeds’ insurance company then placed them in a rental home in Sterling Glen off Sweeney Hollow Road, near Tiffanie’s parents.
Their Georgebrook home was rebuilt and they moved in in July. Boston Cruz Reed, the couple’s first son, was born June 28 and was healthy. Boston was due the same day the couple was to move back in, but he came early, Tiffanie said.
“(The tornado) gave us a little scare, but I got my miracle baby,” Tiffanie said.
The home that was destroyed a year ago, then the eighth one on the left side of Marchester Circle, is now the first. The other seven will not be rebuilt. The home is congenial, a diamond in the rough. The ceilings are high, and the walls are a burnt orange, the only middle-ground color agreeable for a wife who was a Tennessee cheerleader and a husband who bleeds Alabama crimson.
Marianne Strong of Marianne Strong Interiors designed a nursery for Boston as part of a St. Vincent’s Health System and ABC 33/40 contest the family won. It looks like something out of a “celebrity home,” Tiffanie said. A mobile that hangs above Boston’s crib is made of two small baseball bats, the strings that dangle holding soft baseballs and other pieces that depict the Boston Red Sox “B.” Will is a Red Sox fan.
“We had no idea it would be as elaborate as it was,” Tiffanie said of the room.
Tiffanie said the family lost “pretty much everything” to the tornado. The couple did manage to salvage its wedding album, which was protected by a case. The house is now full, of the necessities, of children’s toys, of thankfulness to a community that cared.
Tiffanie said the donations and help the family received in the last year — the random lady who drove by handing out Target gift cards, Chick-fil-A passing out chicken sandwiches, UAB’s volleyball team clearing debris — are appreciated.
“We have somehow managed a year later to have a home going on,” she said. “Jesus carried us through the storm and by his grace and mercy we are healthy and putting the pieces of life back together.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.