EF-5 obliterates town of Hackleburg, Phil Campbell

The strongest tornado of the day, an EF-5 tornado ravaged parts of Marion County starting at 3:05 p.m., lasting for 23 minutes, traveling 25 miles just in Marion County. Wind strength was greater than 200 miles per hour and it is approximated that 25 people were killed. Hackleburg High School was destroyed, along with the Wrangler plant.

Thousands of trees were downed, hundreds of homes and buildings were either damaged or destroyed and cars were tossed 150 to 200 yards. The tornado path started near 2613 State Highway 19 in Detroit, and lifted near 20 Highway 43 in Phil Campbell.

While the tornado was only on the ground for 25 miles in Marion County, it was actually on the ground for an astonishing 132 miles through Alabama and southern Tennesse.

On Monday, April 2, Fox 6 News received an e-mail with the subject line "Entire city destroyed." It was an aerial picture of Hackleburg and the picture told the story; just about everything in the picture was heavily damaged or destroyed. Video: Raw- National Weather Service confirms Hackleburg and Phil Campbell ravaged by an F-5

The small town of 1,500 not only lost its elementary school, high school, fire department, police station, grocery store and the Wrangler clothing plant—an employer for many—more than two dozen people were killed in this massive storm.

"Want me to be honest with you?" asked Hackleburg High junior Adam Sutherland when asked how he is coping as he helped sort through what remained of the choir room and athletic building.

"This sucks. I don't want to go to another school. I want to stay in town. This is home. If you know anything about Hackleburg, we are a big family," Sutherland said.

The sentiment was the same in nearby Phil Campbell where the high school had windows blown out, a wing destroyed and the band room leveled.

Eighth-grader Allison Byrd worried her clarinet was gone forever as the band room was leveled. But the instrument was found undamaged, still in its case, several hundred yards away.

"I want to go back to school. I know that sounds strange, but it's really boring at my house," she said. "I can't see any of my friends."

Steve Ohnesorge of Fox 6's sister station, WBTV spent time in Hackleburg and showed that almost every home in the small town was not only obliterated, but swept away with the storm. Video: Hackleburg begins to recover from deadly tornado

Mackenzie Patterson, with WTVM spent time with the Holland family who told their story of incredible survival, including that of their cat that was sucked into the sky as the family braced for destruction. Video: Hackleburg family recovers from devastation

Despite their devastation, Phil Campbell residents were not going to let the lack of a church building be a reason not to hold services. On May 1, members of the Phil Campbell Church of God gathered in the place where their church building had stood only five days prior. The building was totally destroyed and the only thing reminder of the building was the numerous piles of debris and the concrete slab where it formerly sat.

During the service, Pastor Chris Burns declared "Last week, we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today, we celebrate the resurrection of Phil Campbell, Alabama."
Video: Phil Campbell church demolished, but not gone

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