Wednesday marks the 5th anniversary of the second largest, most deadly tornado outbreaks in Alabama’s history.
On April 27, 2011 a series of 62 tornadoes tore through 35 counties and 80 cities across northern and central Alabama, leaving devastation in its wake — killing more than 250 people, amassing more than a billion dollars in damages.
Five years later, the vortex’s destruction still lingers across the Yellowhammer State as the reality of lost loved ones, friends, businesses and belongings hits a little too close to home for all too many Alabamians.
Today, Alabama politicians from across the state look back on that fateful day:
Gov. Robert Bentley:
Alabama will never forget the more than 250 people who lost their lives on April 27, 2011. Today, five years later, Alabama is better prepared to face the next natural disaster due to the lessons learned in how we prepare and respond. I am proud of the efforts state agencies made to help communities recover.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions:
Today we remember the lives tragically claimed by the storms of April 27, 2011. The tornadoes which ripped through the Southeast five years ago did unprecedented damage in Alabama, tearing apart not just our homes and businesses but countless families. However, in those darkest of days, the people of our state united in a common purpose to reveal their true nature. The love and service shown in the following days and weeks through the giving of time, aid, and prayer brought our communities together like never before.
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby:
Five years ago today, the most powerful long-track tornado in Alabama history struck Tuscaloosa and surrounding communities. Please join me in remembering the lives that were tragically lost on that day as well as the generosity, strength, and resilience of the people of Alabama.
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01):
April 27th, 2011 is a day that forever changed our state. Over 250 Alabamians lost their lives that day as tornado after tornado tore through the state. In difficult times like this, I always try to think about the positive things. We learned a lot about Alabama on that day and the weeks that followed. The resiliency of our state and the caring spirit of our people were on full display. So on this anniversary, let us remember those we lost while also taking great pride in how far we have come.
U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02):
Today marks five years since an unprecedented outbreak of tornadoes ripped through the State of Alabama killing 252 people and leveling whole communities. We can all remember where we were that day and how time stood still as we realized just how devastating these storms were and how Alabama would never be the same.
There are countless stories from that day and its aftermath: stories of loss and devastation, but also stories of heroism and hope. People in our state came together in a very special way to help their neighbors in need, protect people they had never met, and serve each other as never before.
We remember the those we lost that awful day. We ask prayers of comfort for their families on what must be a difficult anniversary for them. And, we recommit ourselves to serving and looking out for our neighbors just as we did after April 27, 2011. God bless you and God bless our state.
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (AL-03):
Today marks the fifth anniversary since a super storm of tornadoes swept through the Southeast. These tornadoes were some of the deadliest in U.S. history and Alabama was hit the hardest.
Over 200 lives were lost and thousands were changed forever. As a community, we rebuilt or homes, schools and businesses. It is that strength and resilience that we prayed for to keep us moving forward.
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04):
It is hard to imagine that is has already been five years since that dark day in our state’s history. Having been traveling in the 4th District that day, I was able to see first-hand the destruction that took place. Quite honestly, I didn’t know where the next tornado was going to touchdown.
… Five years later, while many of the physical scars have healed, homes have been rebuilt and businesses have reopened, the emotional scars remain. 249 people died across Alabama with half of those deaths occurring inside the 4th District.
I encourage everyone to continue to pray for those who lost loved ones and to remember them on this anniversary.
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (AL-05):
Five years ago today, North Alabama faced one of the worst natural disasters in our history. In the wake of a seemingly unending string of tornado trails, I saw firsthand the compassion and resilient spirit of neighbors, churches, family members, emergency personnel, and local law enforcement as they came together to help and comfort those in need. Shortly after the tornadoes struck, my family and friends joined hundreds of other volunteers in the severely damaged Anderson Hills neighborhood to help cut and haul destroyed trees and other debris to the streets for removal. I will never forget how our spirits were uplifted when Alabama’s Governor and numerous other elected officials unexpectedly appeared and promised to help people recover from the widespread destruction.
While the Tennessee Valley has largely recovered from the physical destruction and most homes have been rebuilt or replaced, many of our friends and neighbors lost loved ones who will never come back. Today, please take a moment and keep them in our thoughts and prayers.
U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (AL-06):
Today we remember the 252 people who lost their lives 5 years ago when 62 tornados ripped through Alabama destroying homes, communities, and families. The tornados severely damaged my hometown of Hackleburg, and our community lost 18 friends and neighbors that day.
In one of our state’s darkest hours, we saw neighbors come together to rebuild the place they call home, not because they had to but because that’s who the people of Alabama are. As we look back, let us pray for the families of those who lost loved ones as they continue to rebuild their communities and their lives.
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07):
As we reflect on April 27th, we are reminded of the strength, the generosity and the hope of the human spirit that was displayed in the face of such an unimaginable tragedy.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill:
As we reflect on this unwanted and undesired anniversary, we are reminded of the tragic loss of life and property that occurred five years ago today,” Secretary Merrill said. “And yet with all we have lost, we never lost hope or optimism as we helped our friends and neighbors recover and return to some sense of normalcy.”
“Our state continues to serve as a positive example to the southeast and to our nation of the good things that can come from difficult circumstances. I am honored to represent our community and our state as an elected official in the greatest state in the union.
This story may be updated as more statements come in.