Lives forever changed 2 years after deadly tornadoPublished 9:35am Monday, April 29, 2013
Twenty-four months after a deadly tornado ripped across Elmore County, there are spring buds of new life in the acres-wide scar that stretches from the Dexter community to Lake Martin.
And aside from a horizon filled with fallen and shattered trees, life appears to go on in the communities hardest hit by the April 27, 2011, tornado.
On Middle Road, where four residents died that night, most of the destroyed mobile homes have been replaced. Some house new residents, other residents have returned. A year ago, hundreds gathered at the home of Nancy Myers to remember those lost in the storms and to thank the community for its help in the recovery.
But things are quieter this time around, Myers said.
“I think we are all just trying to recover and forget,” she said.
Across the street from the Myers Acres Mobile Home Park, there are two memorials in the field where 5-year-old Kammie Abernathy, her aunt Candace Hope Abernathy, Martha Ann Myers and her daughter Missy Gantt died that night.
Crosses stand there dedicated to the four victims. On the site where Martha Myers lived, a tree stump remains with her and Missy’s names carved into it.
“I think everyone is recovering,” Myers said, “some slower than others.”
The congregation of Mt. Hebron East Baptist Church will hold a dedication for their new chapel. The storm ripped the historic church apart to the foundation.
The new church, fellowship hall and Sunday school classrooms will be dedicated in a service beginning at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
Like nearby Mt. Gilead Primitive Baptist, Mt. Hebron was born again through donations and tireless efforts by volunteers in Elmore County and beyond.
Emergency Management Director Eric Jones, who stood on the front lines of immediate recovery and the still continuing rebuilding process, said his office is closing out some of the final state and federal emergency assistance reimbursements.
Jones said he’s met with many residents who suffered injuries, lost homes or even lost loved ones during the last two years.
“Many of them seem to have found their new normal, and are living in the changed life the tornado caused,” Jones said.
“But there are many others who are still working through some things.”
Jones said this two-year anniversary is a reminder of how quickly life can change.
“No one had any expectation of that kind of event, which could so suddenly affect so many,” Jones said.
“It’s a reminder that we need to be prepared, and that none of us are promised tomorrow.”