FIVE YEARS LATER: ROSEDALE RECOVERED

Tornado Rosedale

Note: This story, and many others on the April 27, 2011, tornado, aired during WVUA 23’s 1 and a half hour special program “Faces of the Storm” on April 27, 2016. If you’d like to watch the whole series, click here.

John Wedgeworth remembers the day his neighborhood changed forever.

“I could barely see the tornado forming,” he said. “There were some guys, and I said, ‘Hey, you need to get those kids in the house,’ and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t see anything. What are you looking at?’ ”

Just moments later, Rosedale Court was gone. Nine residents lost their lives.

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“The people across the street from me, their whole apartment was gone,” he said. “Nothing but the walls standing, water spewing, gas spewing like water. I could hear people saying they needing some help, they were screaming.”

Wedgeworth wasted no time and sprang into action, searching for neighbors in need of rescue. He freed one family from the remains of their bathroom, and brought them over to what was left of his own house.

For three days, Wedgeworth lived out of what was left of his apartment and continued helping rescuers.

“All day, I just helped people just try to go and dig, help other people as much as I could until it got dark,” he said. “Until they told us we had to leave.”

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He was displaced for about a year, but Wedgeworth was the second tenant to move back into an updated, refreshed Rosedale Court — now called Rosedale Apartments. Being right back where he started was important, he said.

“This is home,” Wedgeworth said. “Like I explain to people, this could happen anywhere. I don’t care where you go, this can happen wherever you go. You cannot run from god.”

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Now, the Rosedale Apartments community comes together every year on April 27 for a special memorial commemorating the lives lost and the families displaced. Most importantly, the annual meeting is a testament to how far the area has come.

“It’s better,” Wedgeworth said. “I think the stability of the buildings are better than what we had, and the surroundings are better. It was a tragic that it happened, but look at the blessings that we have.”

Phase 3 of Rosedale Apartments is under construction, and will offer housing for seniors.

Categories: Community, Local News