UAB student shares story of her family as they battled the storm, divided

UAB student Noora Siddiqui of Harvest was in her dorm April 27 when the tornadoes tore through the state, destroying her family home.

UAB student Noora Siddiqui, 19, was in her Blazer Hall dorm room the afternoon of Wednesday, April 27, 2011. The freshman, majoring in biochemistry with a minor in anthropology and Arabic, was studying for finals. Her mother and three younger sisters were at home in Harvest, north of Huntsville, and her father was working in Tuscaloosa. Since weather had struck earlier that day, the family didn't have power at home, and Noora had been in contact with them relaying information about severe weather possibilities.

Around 5:15 p.m. she says, she heard reports that a tornado had touched down five miles from her house. She tried unsuccessfully to reach her mother again, not realizing that things at home had changed. Within a few minutes she learned that a tornado had struck her home, largely destroying it and much of her neighborhood. Her mother and sisters sought refuge at a local fire station.

noora_1_siteSiddiqui spent a sleepless night talking with her father by cellphone while he battled his way home to the family from hard-hit Tuscaloosa. She sent an email to her professors, letting them know she couldn't take her finals because she "had to go home, had to be with my family."

The next morning, with all thoughts of taking finals vanquished, Siddiqui took off for home. She and her sisters salvaged the things they could and took photographs of their home, beaten down and torn apart by the twister.

Siddiqui's back in her dorm room watching other students pack their belongings and move out.

Marc Booker, director of Student Housing and Residential Life, said UAB quickly moved to assist several students and their family members with temporary housing until they could secure other accommodations. "We worked with each resident to fulfill these special requests and as of today, we have only one student remaining here due to the storms," he said.

For the next two weeks, she will stay on the UAB campus; her family is staying with friends.