By Cady Inabinett, News editor
While students were away for spring break, a tornado struck campus on the evening of March 30—leaving structural damages around campus in its wake. The tornado was one of several that occurred throughout Alabama that day.
An email sent to student, faculty and staff from university administration on March 31 outlined the damage campus suffered from the storm. It reported Vacca Hall, where the Alabama Traffic Safety Center is located, was the only campus structure that suffered significant damage, and Brooke residence hall and the 3D Art Building had minor damages as well. The storm also led to downed trees and fences as well as dethatched roof shingles and gutters.
The tornado was just one of 20 that rolled through Alabama on March 30 according to the National Weather Service. The tornado that hit campus traveled through Perry, Bibb and Shelby counties: a path of 29.46 miles long. Maximum wind speeds reached 120 miles per hour.
The tornado began in Adler in Perry County, where several campers were rolled over or destroyed. The tornado went on to damage several houses in Wilton before heading to campus, where it dissipated.
Director of the Physical Plant, Coty Jones, reported that, as of April 6, most of the storm damage on campus has been repaired apart from Vacca Hall. He added that Vacca Hall has, “been closed up to maintain safety and security.”
As of now, it’s unclear how much repairs cost the university, with Jones saying, “We do not have a total cost back from the state adjusters at this point.”
When asked if the university gained any insights about storm preparedness and repairs, Jones responded, “You plan, prepare and take precautions the best you can, however mother nature is not always predictable. I always gain insights form events that happen on campus. As Benjamin Franklin stated ‘Tell me I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.’”
Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Dr. Tammi Dahle elaborated on the university’s storm response, saying, “After every incident on campus the Emergency Response Team debriefs and evaluates it’s response. We plan to look further into our response to the March 30 tornado this summer in case any improvements or adjustments can be made.”
Dahle went on to commend the university’s immediate response to the March 30 storms, saying, “Although no response is perfect, we believe our response to the tornado on March 30 was exceptional and give special thanks to our staff in the University Police Department, Physical Plant, University Marketing and Communications, and Housing and Residence Life who not only kept watch during the storm but also responded immediately to campus after the tornado.”