Alabama author Carol Trant Dean’s “Day of Destruction” records survivor accounts of the day a deadly EF4 tornado struck Enterprise High School and the struggle to come to terms with the devastating event.
The tornado, with winds of more than 170 mph, took the lives of eight Enterprise High students and one nearby resident on March 1, 2007. It was the worst U.S. tornado strike on a school since the 1960s. The tornado outbreak began in Kansas the day before and spread east claiming 20 lives and producing 56 tornadoes before the storm system moved into the Atlantic after producing a final twister in North Carolina on March 2.
Dean, a licensed professional counselor, worked with the Enterprise school system and was part of the healing process in the aftermath. “Day of Destruction” records firsthand accounts of school and community members a few years after the disaster. She not only preserves their stories but a bit of each unique journey toward healing.
“I wrote this book,” Dean said, “to complete my commitment to the Enterprise tornado victims and their families and to help others in similar situations.”
The foreword is written by Jim Reese, former superintendent of Enterprise City Schools, in which he refers to Dean as an unsung hero: “I am proud that someone, especially one with Carol’s credentials, decided to write a book about the tornado.”
The book has eight personal accounts of that day, including Reese, the principal, assistant principal, guidance secretary, school nurse, a student and sister of one victim, the elementary school counselor and the author’s. It chronicles four students who experienced difficulties in the aftermath.
“Day of Destruction” is at times a tough read. It provides an up-close account of the horror and the emotional and physical trauma the community endured as chaos descended. But it also shows the resilience of a community while offering guidance on dealing with tragedy and loss.
The book is in part dedicated to the Enterprise High School Guidance Department, with profits donated to the department to help students.
One gem in Dean’s book is a poem written by Virginia Kelly, at the age of 87. She could see the devastation of Enterprise High School from her backyard. Her poem, “A Tornado Is:,” provides a stirring conclusion to a powerful book.
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