Life...Fun and Kentucky Real Estate


Tornados Can Wipe You Out and Bring You Everything

We all have moments in our lives that define who we are.

I read somewhere events that happen before you turn age 18 impact how you deal with your life in the future. This includes child abuse, divorce of parents, death of a family member, moving, bullying, good or bad teachers, accidents, etc. All these freaky things roll together and form who you are and how you live.

April 4, 1974 was the night of the tornados in Madison County, Kentucky. Today is the anniversary. I was a senior in high school and my brother was in the Navy so I was thrilled that he had left me his car, a red Ford Pinto that I drove everywhere.  

I remember the evening being fairly warm but windy. As I was traveling back home from Berea I thought the sky to the West was beautiful...sort of pink as the lightning would brighten the black sky. I had been visiting my boyfriend's mother in the hospital and was only a few miles south of exit 90 on I-75. We lived on the White Hall exit on a 33 acre farm that had a beautiful newly restored 2 story home with plaster walls, 6 fireplaces and 2 staircases. Nestled back a few acres in maple trees you could hardly see it from the road. The farm had a creek, woods and 2 barns.  My Dad had built a Texaco service station on the road frontage across from White Hall Elementary School.  There were a few houses down the road but mostly it was farmland where I rode my horse everyday. I managed my own stable where I taught riding lessons and rented stalls. The money I earned paid for clothes, supplies for my horses and gas for the car.

I must have arrived about 20 minutes after the tornado had hit.

As I came across the bridge what I noticed first was that the stately trees lining the road were all chopped off and grotesque. Inching closer behind cars I finally drove up to the service station and pulled over. It looked like a war zone! There were no lights and I could barely see power lines on the ground sparking. State Police and were everywhere keeping cars moving away from the area. They were trying to keep me out too! I jumped over the power lines running toward the station. Someone was out there with a flashlight was coming toward me. I was so glad to see it was my Dad. In that moment we stood there I looked back behind the station where the house should be. Pitch black darkness...a lightning strike lit the sky...finally I could see the hill where the house should be and only a few broken trees remained!

Where was the house??  

Dad told me that Mom and my little brother (Mark) had been in the house when it hit. He had called her as she sitting upstairs at the window watching the black clouds. He warned her that tornado was heading to the house and to run for the basement. She had grabbed my brother and raced toward the basement. As she closed the door the wind took the house right off the foundation and piled the whole thing in the neighbor's field next door. He had sought cover under a heavy table in his office as it took the roof off the building. Shaking and then looking around he peered out the back door and saw the house was gone. I'm sure he ran up to where the house had been in a second flat! There under bricks and sheet metal from the furnace lay Mom and Mark. Still alive but scratched and beat up. He got them out and helped them toward the station. Someone took them to the hospital but he stayed to keep looters out of the station. He was worried but was doing the best he could in a crazy situation. He wanted me to go find them and see that they were OK.  

There were so many cars in the road that I had to drive out US25 all the way to Boonesboro exit on I-75 to get to the hospital back in town. Once there I found Mom all scratched up, no glasses or shoes and Mark was sitting next to her with his arm in a sling. They looked pitiful and sad. She didn't remember anything after she had closed the basement door and was on the 2nd step. I put them in my car and took them to my boyfriend's house where we stayed for a few days so our lives could be sorted out. Dad stayed at the station to protect it. All I had left were the clothes on my back and my car. My senior year was in shambles right before prom. No clothes, shoes, cherished childhood mementos, furniture, my horses were missing, no barns and since I was a kid (no insurance).

What I can figure out now is that it taught me that I can start over at any time. It's easy to let things go that don't work. I've wiped out at least 4 times in my life all for different reasons. Each time I start over I end up with more. Like a new and improved, stronger version of Lizette. Last night, we had many storms in our area and I headed for the basement to be safe. As I curled up with my little dog I felt comfort in all I had accomplished and amazingly I have no fear about a tornado. Starting over is part of life and makes you strong. Life is good!   

Comment balloon 7 commentsLizette Fitzpatrick • April 04 2007 09:47AM



What an incredible experience you live through! My heart was racing reading this! 

Posted by Monika McGillicuddy, NH Real Estate Broker (Prudential Verani Realty) almost 12 years ago

Nothing as creepy as a tornado!  I saw one in '88 and it was just hanging out of the clouds heading for our house.  It hung from West Omaha and didn't touch down until CB.  It would have torn right through the middle of the city if it touched down.  That image is in my head like it was yesterday!

So happy that you lived to tell the story! 

Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) almost 12 years ago


Is that sick or what, we had a Wilma and huricianes, twisters are alot worse, that is crazy.

No basements here!

Posted by Neal Bloom, Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate (eXp Realty) almost 12 years ago

Lizette, Sorry for your loss, and good  job rebounding!! The hard times do make us stronger. Tornados are a freak of nature I drove through a disaster area last year in Rogers Minnesota, I was in shock the damage that was done. Did you take that photo? It is a great shot of mother nature. Thanks for sharing.

Good Day!! have a cup of java and a smile on me :)

Posted by Duayne Weir, Minnesota Real Estate Agent (Investment Realities LLC/MarketLink Realty) almost 12 years ago
I have lived through countless earthquakes of all sizes.  I survived one tornado when I was 13, I would take a earthquake everyday.
Posted by Beth Bastian, Simi Valley Real Estate (Rosemont Financial Inc) almost 12 years ago

Lizette, What a powerful story! This one should have been featured back in 2007! You are truly a "triumphant survivor" and are to be admired! You make life good!

Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) over 10 years ago

Mine was November 22, 1993.  30 years to the day Kennedy was assignated.  This year it was a fire that wiped out my daughter's childhood stuff.  Powerful post and I can certainly identify.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) almost 5 years ago

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