AN NJN EDITORIAL — It’s hard to believe, but it has now been two years since the tornadoes of April 27, 2011, that devastated Fultondale and many other communities in Alabama.
The hardest thing to believe — and in some respects, the least surprising — is the way the city has rebounded from that day.
Fultondale still shows the scars, but you have to look harder to find them. An abandoned storefront or two on Decatur Highway, several empty residential lots behind City Hall and the Promenade Shopping Center, and damaged motels at the city’s south end are still very evident.
But in large part, the town has moved on. The commercial center is back to normal, even enhanced now with new businesses such as On Tap Sports Cafe and the forthcoming Aldi grocery store on Walker Chapel Road. Just this past Saturday, the Hawkins B. Carter American Legion Post 255 opened its new hall on New Castle Road, replacing the old facility near the city center. And Fultondale First Baptist Church has experienced a rebirth, both physically and spiritually.
It is true that Fultondale did not have nearly the degree of devastation as Tuscaloosa, Pleasant Grove or Pratt City. There, whole swaths of houses were simply flattened, with little left but a dusty tornado path. Rebuilding those communities is a much bigger effort.
Tuscaloosa is moving along, as the area just south of the University of Alabama campus is sprouting new business and residential life. In Pleasant Grove, it’s slower going, but there is progress still. Ditto for Pratt City.
All of this is to show that Alabamians are a resilient lot. We get knocked down, only to get up, lick our wounds and pick up the pieces. It’s who we are; it’s what we do.
As we once again remember those who did not survive this once-in-a-generation tornado outbreak, let us pledge to them to keep rebuilding, to make our communities even better than they were before.
Their memories deserve no less.