There are a lot of tears and long faces today. People could barely talk about the events that happened on April 27th, 2011. And today the community came together.
27 bells rung today.
Survivor Amanda Johns says, “To lose a parent.”
Another bell rings in the distance.
Morgan Hutton survived but says, “I lost both of my great-grandparents.”
One toll for each person lost in the tornadoes 5 years ago.
A speaker reads the names of those who died, “Donna Berry.”
Johns says they took shelter with her mom and husband on the floor of their house’s hallway as the tornado roared through their home and say, “We clinched onto each other as much as we could until we couldn’t hold on to each other anymore. And the last words I heard her say was I love ya’ll.”
At 3:27pm on April 27 2011, an F5 tornado hit the rural community of Phil Campbell south of the Shoals.
Survivor Sherry Wollentien recalls seeing her town and neighbors torn and says, “It hurt us real bad. Real bad. We was all scared we didn’t know what to do.”
Five years later, this community of 1,100 came together to remember their 27 lost neighbors, friends and family and told their stories.
Johns remembers her final conversation with her mom. “Mama, she prayed and she took her cushion that she had and put it over my belly and said, Amanda you need this more than I do… She wouldn’t have it any other way just to hold it there on my belly and protect my baby.”
Others say they’re relieved to be alive.
Hutton, who’s a junior and a member of the first graduating class to attend all four years at the new Phil Campbell High School, says, “You know some people ain’t here today to see it. Some people moved. But it makes you feel really lucky that you still have your life, get a great school like this.”
Another bell rings. Today, the bells toll for Phil Campbell.
The new Phil Campbell High School gym hosted this evening’s remembrance. The old high school was leveled during the 2011 tornado. This one was built in its place.