A lifetime of farming has prepared Winston Morrison for the devastation caused in an instant.
Winston Morrison is a third-generation Stewart County farmer. When March gives way to April, the pace on the farm picks up.
This spring, it’s a different kind of pace. A March 3 tornado ripped apart Morrison’s home and a farm that has been built piece by piece and barn by barn over more than six decades.
Most of it is gone.
Though they are not here anymore, Morrison knows exactly what his Daddy, Richard Morrison, and Pappy, Leland Morrison, would be saying right now.
“Get stuff fixed and go to work,” he said on Thursday. “That’s what they would be saying, ‘Get it fixed, go to work. Why don’t get the old stuff out and run it?”
Morrison and his wife, Julie, survive the storm huddled with their three dogs in a hallway of their home on a piece of high ground. They know they are fortunate.
A tornado that started just west of Eufaula and ended in Webster County, left a path of destruction more than 30 miles long in Barbour, Quitman and Stewart counties. There were two areas of structural devastation – the Eufaula airport and Morrison’s farm.
It’s been a lesson in life for someone who appreciates the simple things the dirt has to offer.
“What I have said is you have a circle of friends and you pretty much know the size of your circle of friends,” he said. “And then when something like this happens you find out that your circle of friends is much larger you knew. And it just grows and grows,”
As he spends his days picking up the pieces – literally – Morrison is looking ahead. He hopes to plant some of the 500 acres he was planning to plant this spring. Peanuts are probably out of the question, but he should be able to get some cotton in the ground.
“We got plenty to do around here. If we can get the house built back and get the shops built back this can be a rebuilding year.”
But when you are 57 years old and all you have ever done is work the land, setbacks take on a different meaning.
“If I was a pessimist, would I be farming?” he asked. “I don’t think so.”