UA alum Kim Cross writes book on tornadoBy Collin Burwinkel | 04/07/2015 11:40pm
UA alumna Kim Cross quit her job to focus on writing a book about April 27, 2011 tornado that struck Tuscaloosa. Photo Courtesy of Kim Cross
“Tuscaloosa is my college town and it is special to me. I remember that day so clearly. I was sitting on my couch with my husband and my son watching the tornado on the television,” Cross said. “It wasn’t the biggest tornado that day, but it was the biggest one that hit a large city. It cut through the heart of Tuscaloosa.”
The storm caused approximately $2.4 billion in property damage. It was one of 355 tornadoes in the spring 2011 tornado outbreak, the largest outbreak in United States history.
“For anyone who was in Alabama that day, it would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have a personal memory of that,” Cross said. “It was a very personal storm for me and for my college town and I felt like the story really needed to be told.”
Cross, who graduated summa cum laude with a degree in journalism from the University and returned for her graduate fellowship in journalism, said she felt a strong responsibility to tell the story of the storm in order for it to be remembered.
“The storm was kind of quickly forgotten in the national news,” she said. “I was working for Southern Living at the time and we did a story on it for the magazine and the readers really liked it. The whole topic was very emotional and that sort of grew into a book.”
The book, “What Stands in a Storm,” takes an in-depth look at the events that occurred, including the story of three college students and many others, such as first responders and rescuers. The book is based on more than a year of research and forensic reporting. Cross also transcribed hundreds of hours of interviews including local news coverage and transcribed other timestamped audio and visual recordings.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author and current UA professor Rick Bragg wrote the book’s foreword.
“I think Kim has taken the most awful events of this date and has put a human face and beating heart to the story,” he said. “When she asked me to do a foreword for her book, it was an honor. She is sensitive to the living but honors those who have passed. It is a very good and remarkable book.”
Cross said it is important to remember not only the bad things that happened but also the good things that happened afterward.