In Glade Spring, Virginia you can still see where trees were yanked out of the ground, a very real reminder of the devastation from two years ago when tornados ripped through our area.
Since then, homes, buildings and businesses have been rebuilt, but the people who make up the community, like the volunteer rescue workers, still remember that night, like it was last night.
Anne Bales is an EMT with The Glade Spring Volunteer Rescue Squad, a career she took on in her sixties as a way to stay active after her husband died.
On April 27th, 2011, Anne and her ambulance crew had gone to The Petro Truck Stop to put fuel in their rig, when Anne ran inside for a pit stop of her own. She says that's when it hit. “All of this noise, this roaring like you've never heard before. The windows broke, and the tornado threw a truck into the building.”
Glade Spring Police Chief Ricky Stumbo was in Abingdon, Virginia with another ambulance, “They say your training will kick in when you need it." And he was right.
All around the area, firefighters, EMTs, and police, ran to help. Anne's ambulance wasn't drivable, but that didn't stop them. Anne tells us "We got our supplies off the ambulance, set up a little triage place, there was no electricity. The only lights were at The Petro,” lights that served as a beacon to responders and people from Glade Spring. “We looked up and all these red lights were coming, and there's no way to explain the feeling of knowing there's help coming."
Both Anne and Ricky think about that night, and Glade's recovery. Neighbor helping neighbor, the recovery has been amazing. Ricky remembers, “It was a pretty harrowing experience. You think back on it. ‘What will I do next time?’ is what I generally think about."
Anne’s grandson, Gabe, was in driver’s seat of the ambulance when the storm hit. He still gets jumpy during storms, and rightly so. She says a tree branch went through the driver’s side window, and got stuck in the sun visor on the passenger’s side.
Anne tells us the tornado is still something that's talked about on a daily basis, but it hasn't changed her outlook on life.