TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - Tuscaloosa is preparing to mark five years since the April 27, 2011 tornado devastated the city, taking 53 lives in the Tuscaloosa area. Several organizations are holding events in conjunction with the milestone.
On Monday at 2:30 p.m., College Hill Baptist Church, which was destroyed in the storm, will break ground on a new church building. The congregation has been meeting in other locations over the past five years. The church will be built at 600 24th Ave. E.
On Wednesday at 11 a.m., Community Service Programs of West Alabama and the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority will hold an event at the new Rosedale Apartments. A special recognition will be made to the families of the nine people who died in Rosedale as a result of the tornado.
The tornado destroyed the former Rosedale housing development, and a new development now stands in its place. The event will also mark Fair Housing Month.
On Wednesday at 4:50 p.m., the Salvation Army will hold a grand opening for its new Center of Hope shelter on Greensboro Avenue. The tornado destroyed the previous shelter, and the new shelter opened its doors earlier this year.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said the five-year milestone will be a time of reflection for many in the Tuscaloosa area.
"I know it means something to the thousands and thousands of people who were impacted in the 12 ½ percent of the city destroyed," Maddox said. "So it's important for us that we create a balancing act of honoring what happened to us, while at the same time continuing to focus on recovery."
Maddox said thinking of what Tuscaloosa experienced in the tornado, mixed with the challenges of recovery, can be daunting. But Maddox says the city remains focused on recovery.
"There are moments if you really sit and think about it, you can become overwhelmed about everything that you've experienced. But, you do your best to separate it, because that same amount of pressure is what has to propel you going forward," he said.