Unorthodox

What Stands in a Storm

by Kim Cross

Overview: Immersive reporting and dramatic storytelling set you right in the middle of the horrific superstorm of April 2011, a weather event that killed 348 people.

April 27, 2011, marked the climax of a superstorm that saw a record 358 tornadoes rip through twenty-one states in three days, seven hours, and eighteen minutes. It was the deadliest day of the biggest tornado outbreak in recorded history, which saw 348 people killed, entire neighborhoods erased, and $11 billion in damage. The biggest of the tornadoes left scars across the land so wide they could be seen from space. But from the terrible destruction emerged everyday heroes, neighbors and strangers who rescued each other from hell on earth.

With powerful emotion and gripping detail, Cross weaves together the heart-wrenching stories of several characters—including three college students, a celebrity weatherman, and a team of hard-hit rescuers—to create a nail-biting chronicle in the Tornado Alley of America. No, it’s not Oklahoma or Kansas; it’s Alabama, where there are more tornado fatalities than anywhere in the US, where the trees and hills obscure the storms until they’re bearing down upon you. For some, it’s a story of survival, and for others it’s the story of their last hours.

Cross’s immersive reporting and dramatic storytelling sets you right in the middle of the very worst hit areas of Alabama, where thousands of ordinary people witnessed the sky falling around them. Yet from the disaster comes a redemptive message that’s just as real: In times of trouble, the things that tear our world apart also reveal what holds us together.

Faith Bowers (10/04/15): Judy Stanton's review inspired me to read this well documented book about the 200 Alabama tornedoes on April 27, 2011. She picked a few groups of people to make it readable including two weatherman, one a mentor to the other. Their very important job was to warn as many citizens as possible about an upcoming storm. To me that was the most interesting. We learned about 3 college students in Tuscaloosa who's tornedo swept right through the city but missed the hospital and Alabama U and the two tornedoes in Cordova during the same day. The first one was early morning, which wiped out the city that allowed very few people downtown during the second storm.

Kim Cross words gave a wonderful visualization of the day's events and the kind of life you lead if you live with tornedoes annually. Though there was some science that went over my head, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Rating: *****

Judy Stanton (08/23/15): It's not often that I read and thoroughly enjoy a work of non-fiction. Kim Cross has managed to take the story of the deadliest day of tornado outbreaks in Alabama and turn it into a book that reads like a novel. The book does explain the facts related to tornado development and the history of tornadoes in the US, but it's done by way of background, in laymen's terms, so it's understandable and insightful. She follows just enough people and events to get the reader swept into the story, worrying about the character's fates, sharing emotions with their families, waiting for the weathermen to bring the latest updates. In What Stands in a Storm, Cross has managed to combine her journalistic penchant for details with her flair for dramatic storytelling. And it's all done in less than 300 pages! A great read.
Rating: *****

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