Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

    15th Street still on the road to recovery


    Making its way from Rosedale Court to Alberta City and then on to Holt, the April 27 tornado tore through Tuscaloosa and ripped out its heart, claiming the lives of more than 50 residents.

    Of all of the ravaged communities, the damage on 15th Street was some of the most devastating for the many UA students who lived there. This section of ground zero appeared on the cover of major newspapers across the state, and videos of the devastation aired on national and worldwide news channels.

    Today, the residents, business owners and private organizations are still working to clean the debris and begin moving forward with plans to rebuild the destroyed areas of their street.

    Sharon Cosby, case manager at Temporary Emergency Services off 15th Street, said that the number of people requiring assistance lessens by the day.

    “We’re looking more toward long-term recovery efforts now,” Cosby said. “We’ve been impressed by how quickly this area was able to recover, but we know that there is still more work to be done.”

    Cosby said that TES still has a warehouse where clients can go to receive items to meet their immediate needs, but the majority of the people she’s helped are doing well and are ready to look toward the future.

    Mary Grace Cassity, a senior majoring in history and a resident of one of the hardest hit neighborhoods, Forest Lake, said she is happy with the progress that’s been made but that there is still a lot of work to be done.

    Cassity’s parents lived in their house in Forest Lake for 26 years before the tornado hit. Their house is currently deemed “unliveable.”

    Cassity said the damage to Forest Lake and surrounding areas made it easy to get lost in the days following the tornado.

    “The neighborhood was aptly-named,” she said. “There were many trees, especially pine trees, and everything looked so barren without them. All the recognizable landmarks are gone.”

    But Cassity said the community’s ability to come together in a time of need offered comfort and hope.

    “We were never particularly close with any of our neighbors, but after the tornado, everyone was checking up on everyone else and offering help and support,” Cassity said. “There was so much confusion in the first days, and it felt like we could really rely on our neighbors.”

    In the days and months since the tornado, thousands of volunteers have helped with the cleanup and recovery phase on 15th Street and in Forest Lake.

    “Most of the houses that were severely damaged have been cleared out now,” Cassity said. “The city did a good job of removing all of the trees and debris, and the roads were passable after only a few days.”

    Cassity said some houses still have tarps on their roofs, and none of the destroyed houses have been rebuilt because of the building moratorium that the City of Tuscaloosa has put into place.

    But Cassity doesn’t doubt the neighborhood’s ability to recover. She said she knows the people of Forest Lake are determined to do so.

    However, the residents of Forest Lake and other neighborhoods off of 15th Street aren’t the only ones with determination.

    Alan Parks, manager of Guthrie’s on 15th Street, said that they have made what he considers a full recovery.

    “Business is great for Guthrie’s right now,” Parks said. “We were able to open our doors on July 12, only three months after the tornado struck.”

    Parks said in the days after the tornado, the community was overwhelmed with all the devastation — and rightfully so.

    He estimates that more than 1,000 businesses were destroyed on April 27 and said he feels lucky that Guthrie’s was able to reopen so soon.

    “We’re not one of those businesses that hopes others will do badly so we can do better,” Parks said. “We want to see the other restaurants and businesses on 15th Street reopen, and we know with these people’s determination, they will.”

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