REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- A series of catastrophic storms ripped through northern Alabama Wed. April 27, 2011, killing more than 200 people around the state.

Sue Tillery, congressional liaison for the U.S. Army Materiel Command, survived the storm unharmed with her sister, Mary, and her three dogs: Cody, Cricket and Skeeter.

Her Athens home, however, was declared a total loss and is scheduled for demolition.

Tillery and her sister were home during the serial tornados.

"Being prepared is the first thing that saved my life," said Tillery. "Before being dismissed at work I called my sister and told her to get ready."

"We had pillows, heavy blanket and a thirty dollar weather radio, the best thirty dollars I ever spent, and we got into the bathtub," Tillery described.

Her gut was right.

When Tillery emerged from the bathroom, the destruction to her home was extensive.

There was no roof, her guest bedroom was completely exposed, and the walls around the garage were demolished, plus much more.

Tillery and her sister escaped from the home through a home office window.

Every room in the house was destroyed but after surveying the damage every bathtub remained intact. Knowing where to take shelter saved their lives.

"If you hear sirens, get to your safe place. And know in advance where you are going," Tillery warns.

Tornados can occur anytime of the year but the season officially starts March 1st in Alabama.

Create an action plan if you do not already have one. Make sure the entire family knows where to go in the event of a tornado. Ensure you have a weather radio, flashlights, a first aid kit, extra batteries, necessary medications, heavy blankets and pillows.

Update your contact information in the headquarters AMC's Emergency Notification System. Simply right click the ENS icon in your toolbar. This system is designed to notify all AMC personnel in the event of an emergency.

Also register with the Army Disaster Personnel Accountability and Assessment System, which standardizes a method for the Army to account, manage, and monitor the recovery process for personnel and their families affected in a catastrophic event. Update your information at