Guin tornado survivors recall 1974 storm (Part Three)

GUIN, Ala. (WIAT) — Twenty-three people were killed and dozens more injured when an F-5 tornado ravaged Guin during the super tornado outbreak of 1974, which left little to the norm.

“There was before the tornado and after the tornado,” Keith Miller said.

That’s a running sentiment of those who survived the hellacious winds of the tornado.

While many were knocked down, the community was never knocked out.

“Everyone in this town at that time was affected by the storm in their own personal way,” Miller said. “Whether their home was destroyed, they knew a friend or family member who was affected in a bad way.”

Many lost everything while others were hardly touched, but the recovery began immediately.

“It was neighbor helping neighbor, and we weren’t receiving the attention like other towns now,” said Mayor Phil Segraves. “The coverage of what happened was slow to get out, and I think we had to depend on each other.”

While tornadoes raked the entire eastern United States that night, a small town like Guin didn’t get the attention right away.

Today, Segraves has used experience of neighbors to learn how to keep his community prepared.

“We’ve learned some from listening to Walt Maddox and talked about some of the problems that Walt had in Tuscaloosa and even the situation in Hackleburg, and things they encountered that night and things you don’t think of unless you are experiences in that situation.” Segraves said.

The city has gone a step further with the addition of a lifesaving tornado siren system.

Growth is still ahead for the city. With the new Corridor X/I-22, the city is more accessible than ever. Segraves continues to lure business and growth for the county seat of Marion County.

For Miller, and Reba Miller-Grogan, that terrifying night will never leave their memory. They hope sharing their story will be a reminder to the next generation of Guin and all of Alabama. Those who died that night may be gone, but they will always be remembered with their names chiseled in stone on Main Street.

Copyright 2014 WIAT-TV CBS42


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