Stories from the Storm: Patrol Sergeant Donald Bradley

Sergeant Bradley's neighborhood was left ruined by the tornadoes, but no matter how much his neighbors lost they all still rallied to help one another.


My name's Donald Bradley and I'm a patrol sergeant with the Base City Hills police department. When the tornado come through the Jefferson county/Tuscaloosa line, it was on a track headed right for my house. So my wife saw some debris. And the, in the, in the air outside of our home falling from the sky so we carried all the kids downstairs into the basement. I grabbed bicycle helmets and, and, and baseball batting helmets and put them on the children and we took shelter in the basement. I started hearing debris hitting the rear of the house. When that happened, I told the kids to get their heads down. Then the, the power went out. And so the room we were in was a finished bedroom, but it didn't have a window so it got really dark. And then everything in the room started shaking very violently. You heard timbers cracking, and I think that was probably the roof. Leaving in. And when the roof lift, several of the walls lift also in the other two walls in the upper part of the house All of the outer walls lift and the two interior walls that I can remember being there had fallen over. The flooring that was directly above us was the kitchen floor. It peeled away. And when it peeled away we were sitting in the basement exposed to the storm. Just being pounded by sheet rock dust and mud and dirt and concrete mortar. And then we started being hit by flying debris, bricks and cinder blocks. The rest of the flooring in the house shifted and fell into the basement. So, it was pretty violent. All of my neighbor's homes were as bad as mine. Everything was totally destroyed. We were some of the first ones to emerge from the rubble. And so my first thoughts were get my children to safety, and then, and then check on my neighbors. My neighbors directly to my right, the Hicks, it was Kevin and Jamie Hicks and their four children. There were six of them. They were huddled in a, in a closet underneath the stairwell. And when their house Their house didn't blow away like mine did. Theirs collapsed on top of them. So they were buried under the stairwell and I had just seen the, the kids outside an hour before. They'd been playing with my children. So my first thoughts were, to try to get them out, and so I, I formed a, a rescue team out of some of the neighbors and we dug the Hicks out. The main thing that I will take with me from this, from now on, is that there're still are a lot of really good people left in this world. When you need them, they're there. You don't even have to ask them, they just show up, and that's. That's the main thing that I'll always remember.
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