Today marks nine years since the April 27, 2011, tornado outbreak rocked the state of Alabama and destroyed 12% of Tuscaloosa in minutes.

In total there were 62 tornadoes reported that day, including the EF4 tornado that bisected Tuscaloosa.

Within 6 minutes, 53 people would lose their lives and thousands of homes and businesses would be reduced to rubble.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said many doubted the city could recover, but he’s proud that T-Town is back stronger than ever.

“That storm defines not only who we are but what we have become, and I’m very proud to have been a small part of what we’ve seen since that time,” Maddox said.

This year, Tuscaloosa is fighting a new storm, Maddox said.

“Tuscaloosa has demonstrated time and time again it can rise to meet any challenge, and we’re going to meet the challenge of COVID-19 just as we met the challenge of April 27, 2011,” Maddox said.

In Alberta, the tornado left a trail of destruction and tragedy.

WVUA 23’s Jabaree Prewitt spoke with two families who lost loved ones as a result of the storm. They said they’re grateful for making it through, but they’ll never be whole again.

Susan Harris remembers that day because her mother would later die of the injuries she sustained.

“The last thing I can remember is the house falling to pieces,” Harris said. “It was tearing the house apart. When we woke up, we were on the ground.”

She remembers hearing her mother’s voice as soon as the tornado’s rumble faded.

“She was mumbling,” she said. “I couldn’t get off the ground, but I could see her. The way she was laying. I could see her and my daughter, and I could see that my mom had some serious injuries.”

Harris said her daughter was also severely injured and wound up spending the next month in the hospital. Since April 27, 2011, her life has never been the same.

“To this day, when it’s severe weather I still panic,” Harris said.

Carolyn Scott lost her best friend that day.

“I was getting ready to fix my family some hamburgers, and as I got through they were saying the tornado was coming,” she said. “We had a warning, but I’ve never been in a tornado. You feel like it might come or might not because there are warnings all the time.”

By the time her family realized they were in danger, it was too late.

“We didn’t make it to the storm shelter because everything was flying in the air,” she said. “My husband said just get down wherever you can so that’s what we did.”

She hunkered down in a carport with eight others.

“The goodness of the Lord had his hands on us,” she said. “Not one of us got a scratch. We were on a little bitty road, and it tore the whole brick house on us.”

But Scott’s friend wasn’t so lucky. She died just one street over.

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