After the Storm: Rebuilding Cordova

CORDOVA, Ala. (WIAT) — It takes generations to build a city, and only a few seconds to destroy it.

“It was a very different feeling, I don’t know how to describe it,” said Mayor Drew Gilbert. “City hall was on Main Street, it was destroyed during the storms, so was the police station, so we lost both of those buildings in the tornado.”

The City of Cordova suffered two blows on April 27, 2011, the first in the pre-dawn hours, the second that afternoon, when an EF 4 tornado slammed into the downtown area, taking out everything in its path.

“We lost four lives in the storm, I don’t really care to imagine what would have been had the first tornado come through before business hours, had these businesses been occupied during that second tornado, I’m not exactly sure what we would have dealt with,” said Gilbert.

The city was left a shell of its former self.

“We didn’t have a grocery store, we had a temporary city hall, a temporary police station, temporary fire,” said Gilbert.

City leaders were left with a daunting task. To rebuild better than before, it’s not an easy process.

“It’s still scary territory,” said Gilbert. “I think we’re exactly where we wanted to be, but it’s still terrifying because you’ve still got so much to do.”

Next, a new city hall, complete with police department, is set to open this summer.  Gilbert said it’s more than just rebuilding what was lost, it’s about getting neighbors involved, because he said Cordova is their home.

“When there is that moment of recovery when you’re in need, we’re phenomenal, you won’t find any better in this area,” said Gilbert.

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