- Cullman, Alabama

April 30, 2013

Monument marking tornado, recovery effort unveiled at Heritage Park

By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times

— The April 27, 2011, tornado outbreak destroyed millions of dollars of local property and left two people dead, but the challenge to recover from the disaster was met head-on by the community.

“We are better than we were before April 27 two years ago,” City Council member Garlan Gudger said as the monument ‘Bent But Not Broken’ was dedicated at Cullman Heritage Park on Monday afternoon.

“We’re thankful for those who built this; everybody works together and that is what is a blessing about this city and county,” Gudger said. “Culllman, because of the tornado, won a national award for the number one small town in the nation to recover after a natural adversity this past year. I’m just glad to be apart of it, and watch people from diverse backgrounds, mindsets, and different thoughts on how they live their life come together after that storm. It’s been a blessing to stand here, two years later and come together, still holding hands and making the best of that situation.”

The monument includes a steel beam, surrounded by a black fence and described with a gravestone-like-plaque and reiterates overcoming the devastation that stunned the South, and the City of Cullman. Mayor Max Townson who spoke at the dedication said it’s something simple, but poignant to be reflected on.

“This plaque is not only dedicated to the City of Cullman, but all the cities affected by the tornadoes,” Townson said. “We thought it would be appropriate to recognize the citizens — they bent but they didn’t break.”

Townson said the steel beam came from a building one block south of First United Methodist Church on Third Avenue in Cullman.

“We will have the monument lit up, so it can be seen at night, not necessarily to remember the disaster, but to show the strength of the citizens after the disaster.”

Lauren Estes can be reached at or 256-734-2131, ext 270.