EIGHT YEARS LATER: FAMILIES CONTINUE TO HEAL FROM DEVASTATING TORNADOES

Tornado Survivors

Reporting by WVUA 23 Reporter Sam Luther

Eight years ago yesterday, around 5 p.m., the lives of thousands of Alabamians would be changed.

This time of year is tornado season, a seemingly routine occurrence in Alabama, but there were 62 that day. Tornadoes that day took the lives of more than 250 people and affected so many more.

Vicki and Sam Edwards lived to tell their story from that day. Eight years later, the Edwards family’s life is a lot different than it used to be. But today, with painful memories that still linger, there was hope and excitement. The Edwards family is building a new home, courtesy of Habitat for Humanity.

“To be here building our home and being able to start all over again, it’s a beautiful thing,” Vickie Edwards said. “I couldn’t ask for nothing more.”

Vickie Edwards, her daughter and two granddaughters were outside on what started as a beautiful Wednesday in Tuscaloosa until storms moved in from Mississippi, a grave sight for many in west Alabama.

“And my daughter just happened to look in the window and see this black cloud way over in the distance, and she was like, ‘Ma, it’s heading this way,’” Vickie Edwards said. “And I said, ‘Girl, get out of that window!’”

What happened next would change the Edwards family forever, as Vicki Edwards fought to protect her family.

“My daughter and her babies, they got into the tub and I stood on the side,” Vickie Edwards said. “And I’m telling you, the first thing that goes is the wall where the tub is. And it’s like it pulls back like a can opener. And the tub just lifted up and went into the air. And when I seen that, I was devastated because I was like, ‘My babies!’”

Her daughter and oldest granddaughter would not survive. The youngest granddaughter was somehow completely unscathed. But, Vickie Edwards did suffer injuries of her own.

“Boom, I hit the ground,” she said. “Well, in the process of me hitting, I broke my elbow, my left leg was broke.”

Sam and Vickie Edwards moved from Ohio to Tuscaloosa just weeks before the tornado took their home. Eight years later, there is no doubt in her mind that Tuscaloosa is where she belongs.

“They ask me often, ‘Why didn’t you go back home?’” Vickie Edwards said. “I’m here – this is my home. I’ve been here now for 10 years and I couldn’t ask for a better place to live.”

With the help of a $30,000 grant from Wells Fargo and tireless work from volunteers and Habitat for Humanity, the Edwardses plan to move into their brand new home by the end of June.

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