BETTY SLOWE’S BLOG: April 19, 2021

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One hundred years ago this week, the people of Tuscaloosa and the surrounding area were collecting money and items to help the people of Ralph whose village was badly damaged by a cyclone on April 16, 1921.

Ralph is located in Tuscaloosa County, approximately 16 miles southwest of Tuscaloosa.

About thirty buildings in the village were demolished or seriously damaged. Four people were killed and many injured. There was no phone connection, so the road had to be cleared and a mail sent to Tuscaloosa for medics, bandages and medication.

Dr TH Patton, Dr WG Shamblin and Luther Davis attended the scene and dressed the wounds of the injured. A blacksmith’s workshop owned by WM Barton was used as a temporary hospital. Located at the edge of a stream, it had escaped the fury of the storm.

Eight or 10 seriously injured people were lying on wet mattresses administered by women in the community. David Barton, whose wife and baby died in the storm, was there to help other family members. Barton was in an outside building when the cyclone hit. He removed the antlers from his wife’s body and set about releasing the children.

The roads leading to Tuscaloosa were flooded and the movement of the injured was difficult. Doctors have been blocked from entering town from Ralph.

The cyclone struck the ground about 3 miles south of Ralph and cut a half-mile by 8-mile trail. Other areas of central, northern and eastern Alabama have been affected by storms with 14 reported fatalities in the state, many injured and many homeless.

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