Man who lost family in tornadoes says, "We aren't guaranteed anything."
"Apison will never be the same." Blue Smith knows the scars the tornado left behind will never fully heal. "My best friend called and said it had hit, and it hit hard."
The single Dad rushed to find someone to stay with his son and then headed to find the rest of the family. "Whenever we got to Apison, it was just total devestation," Blue says. "Places that I'd grown up, it was hard to find your way around because everything had changed. I actually led in a team of paramedics because the road was blocked."
Blue knew the woods and was able to lead the first responders to his family. Miraculously his grandmother's home was still standing. "My father's house was completely gone. He actually came to in the middle of our cow pasture."
Knowing his father and grandmother survived, he turned his search to the rest of his family. "I went to look for my Mom and my Stepdad. I was met at the end of their drive, which is connected to the property on the farm, by my best friend. He informed me that they'd been found. And they didn't make it."
Their home, on Bates Road. Where for days, people would show up. Complete strangers trying to soften the blow of his loss. "There people that we didn't know, from towns I'd never heard of, that literally would have given me the shirt off their back of it would have helped."
And now, five years later, Blue lives his life differently than he did before, knowing how fast it can all change. "My Mom called me the day before the tornadoes but I was too busy to talk, and I did the 'I'll call you back.' Didn't get a chance."
Blue says it's his only regret, and his inspiration to tell the ones he's closest to, what's on his heart every day. "If you got parents, grandparents, you got anybody you care about, let them know because we're not guaranteed anything. It can be gone in a flash. Mine was."
The Apison memorial carries the name of Blue's Mother and Stepfather. The flag is now tattered from four years of flying. A new flag will soon take its place. One that flew at the U-S Capital in Washington DC, on the five year anniversary of April 27th.