JACKSONVILLE, AL (WBRC) - One of the hardest hit areas near campus was The Reserve Apartments where many students lived.
Several buildings were destroyed. They have since been rebuilt.
The complex was almost all student housing. Fortunately, many of those units were empty the day the tornado touched because students were on Spring Break.
But for those who stayed behind, that March night is etched in their memories.
Sydney Sorrells was one of the students at the apartment complex at the time. She lost everything she owned that day: her car, her apartment, and her job.
While some of her classmates didn’t come back after the tornado, she wanted to finish what she started. Sydney is set to graduate this year, and she is glad can close this chapter.
“I saw my entire roof laying in front of my door way and the first thing that came to my mind was I can’t believe I’m alive right now,” said Sorrells. “So, it was a surreal moment because I never believed a storm could actually hit us of that magnitude.”
Sydney said she will use this experience to remind other students that despite your circumstances you can come out on top.
Communication major Alissa Camplin was inside her WindPlace apartment, now the Roost, sleeping when the tornado hit her building. Her dog Liberty woke her up just minutes before the tornado struck.
“In a span of 45 seconds my car was totaled. I didn’t have an apartment anymore,” said Camplin. “I work at the dollar general that had to be demolished because it had such severe damage, but at the end of the day I had my pup and I was alive and everyone else in the town was too.”
Camplin said this past year has been an emotional roller coaster. She said it was really the school and community that rallied together to bring JSU back.
Alex Phillips was a student and worked at The Reserve apartment complex one year ago. He returned Tuesday with his girlfriend getting a look at the new buildings.
He said the past year was tough. He was a part of the clean-up efforts following the tornado.
He said it was 18 hours work days for two months straight. He’s impressed with how quickly the complex was rebuilt
“I feel like it’s resilience and pride, especially from the town residents who have lived here their whole lives and I think it has a lot to do with it and I think it really brought the student body close together in a way,” said Phillips.
For Phillips, a year later he’s bought a house in town and trying to get back to life the way he once knew it.