- Cullman, Alabama

April 29, 2013

A spirit for moving forward

The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — This weekend marked the two-year anniversary of a deadly day of tornadoes that streaked across Alabama, claiming lives and property and changing the landscape of many communities.

Across the state as the weekend approach, some of the cities and towns that suffered horribly under the wrath of the tornadoes found different ways to remember and move forward.

Tuscaloosa unveiled an exhibit that includes the memories and thoughts of those who survived the tornado.

Hackleburg, the small northwest Alabama town that was nearly wiped off the map, celebrated recovery with the reopening of the Wrangler distribution center. Hackleburg was hammered by a powerful EF-5 tornado.

Before the tornado, 150 people worked at Wrangler, which was the centerpiece of employment in the town. The reopened facility comes back with 160 employees and expects to eventually reach 250.

Not far away in Cullman, recovery has been a steady and exciting time for this community. Throughout the county, which suffered through three powerful tornadoes on April 27, the last two years have produced major expansions at industries, the rebuilding of businesses destroyed in the storm, and the arrival of new members of retail community.

In just a few months, Cullman will host Rock the South, a two-day music festival that arose from a post-tornado concert to celebrate recovery.

By late fall, expect to see a groundbreaking for the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame and work moving forward on a new interchange at Interstate 65 and County Road 222, which will feed to the hall of fame and open up additional land for businesses.

Reflecting on the two years that have passed since the tornadoes claimed two lives and destroyed millions of dollars of property in Cullman County, local leaders remain amazed at the tremendous progress that has occurred. The unity of public servants and citizens during the cleanup after the tornado became a foundation for a refreshed approach to community and progress.

Cullman is maintaining and building upon one of the most robust economic settings in the state. The outlook continues to grow brighter for the community, a point that goes back to the unity that was formed two years ago. That spirit of cooperation should be retained well into the future.