The purpose of this phenomenological study was to capture first-hand accounts of K-12 educational leaders whose school districts were directly affected by the deadly 27 April 2011 tornadoes in rural Alabama, USA. This study was framed by the literature base of leadership; specifically crisis leadership and resilience theory. Findings are organised under the headings of crisis management, crisis leadership characteristics, post-crisis support and crisis preparation. In this study, educational leaders demonstrated resilience in the face of adversity and took decisive steps to rebuild not only their schools but also their communities as well. Additionally, leaders expressed the importance of sharing their stories with others so that the lessons they learned in response to the tornadoes would not soon be forgotten. The study concludes with reflections about crisis planning and implications for future research as well as a call to action to improve crisis management in K-12 educational settings.