Monthly Archives: May 2011

Tornado journalism

It’s been an especially vicious and tragic tornado season for the Great Plains and beyond. You’ve surely seen and read about the destruction in Tuscaloosa, Joplin and, now, as it comes out of greater Oklahoma City. Few disasters captivate us the way tornadoes do. We simultaneously marvel and cower at them. And with good reason. Some of the best, heart-wrenching stories come out of them, too.

The Jarrell tornado. Also, remember when gas was $1.12?

As I’ve been reading about these tornadoes, I couldn’t help but think back to my final story I wrote in my college (academic) career. For Bill Minutaglio‘s advanced feature writing class, we had to recreate an event in history. I chose to re-tell the story of Jarrell, Texas, on May 27, 1997. Then, an F5 tornado wiped out most of the small town right of I-35 just 45 minutes north of Austin. Twenty-seven people were killed.

So I decided to share my story, not out of look-at-me motivations, but as a reminder of the impact these twisters have on people and communities, and that we shouldn’t forget about Joplin or Tuscaloosa going forward.

Disclaimer: It’s long and part of it is slightly graphic. Oh, and it’s also unedited (it was for class!), so forgive the rough-around-the-edges quality of it. It begins after the jump.


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