Tuscaloosa rebuild continues, six years after April 27 tornado

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Six years ago, a deadly tornado hit Tuscaloosa killing 53 people.

Since the tragic EF-4 tornado hit the area, so much of Tuscaloosa has undergone significant rebuilding. Allison Hendrix is one of the residents that’s getting a fresh start.

Habitat for Humanity built Hendrix a new house after her former home was destroyed on April 27. Hendrix says that was a frightening day she will never forget.

“I was in my bedroom and I heard popping sounds and I was thinking, ‘Oh, I have a few windows that are being knocked out’,’ Hendrix said. “That’s all I was thinking. And all of a sudden, my roof started coming off in the bedroom so I jumped up and ran into the closet.”

Many other residents in the Holt community were not able to rebuild. Many empty lots with only a foundation left sit not far from Hendrix’s house. She says she wanted to come back to be a part of the recovery effort.

“I am grateful and blessed because God spared me,” Hendrix said. “It just makes a big difference when you go through something like this. It is really a test of your faith with God.”

Ellen Potts is the Director of Habitat of Humanity Tuscaloosa.  She says seeing people becoming homeowners again after the deadly storm is a positive sign for recovery.

“The storm was a horrible thing, but to see the good that has come out of it but it has been such a privilege for us at Habitat for Humanity to be a part of that,” Potts said. “This is our 65th house built since 2011.”

There has also been plenty of growth and recovery in Tuscaloosa.  Mayor Walt Maddox says the City has been focused on the Alberta area.  Maddox says he is glad the recovery effort is doing well but says more work needs to be done.

“Recovery to me is defined by each person’s own where they were when this happened and where they are now,” Maddox said. “For me, although I wasn’t impacted personally, I don’t think recovery is complete. So until the people tell me to go do something else for a living, I am going to continue to work every single day until every lot is rebuilt in our city.”

Maddox said 418 commercial building permits have been issued since April 27, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, and 2,771 residential permits have been generated.

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