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A year later, tornado path continues to heal

By Gary Lloyd

Earlier this month, as I was gathering photos and a feel for the areas affected by the Jan. 23, 2012, tornado, I turned onto Somersby Parkway in Clay, just off Old Springville Road and across from the Georgebrook neighborhood that was so heavily damaged.

A large group of residents was outside near the entrance. It reminded me of all the community members and volunteers last year, clearing debris, hugging neighbors, easing minds.

Gary Lloyd

But this group wasn’t picking up splintered wood or shards of glass. It was collecting Christmas lights and decorations, preparing to store them away for the next 10 months or so.

It was a refreshing thing to see, considering all the recent memories we have of that area are of destruction and loss. It got me thinking.

The large, snaking scar of a tornado path is healing.

Deerfoot Parkway and Old Springville Road, despite their dangers, are two of my favorite drives in our coverage area. Since this time last year, though, when I passed Pilgrim’s Rest in Trussville, shocked and teary eyes on the other side of the road glanced through their passenger windows and saw a neighborhood reduced to blue tarp and downed trees. When I drove down Old Springville Road in Clay, I wondered how there wasn’t even more damage, given how high up on the road those homes sit in Paradise Valley, and to Georgebrook where I wondered where the residents have gone whose former homes are now nothing more than a concrete square.

Georgebrook neighborhood in Clay on Jan. 23, 2012 (left), and Georgebrook on Jan. 23, 2013 (right)
photos by Scott Buttram and Gary Lloyd

But it’s getting better. A lot of these areas are still bare and former residents still mull rebuilding or selling, but it’s a process. And when I made the drives through these three neighborhoods earlier this month, I started to think about how they’ve moved forward, not focused on what happened one year ago. I went through Paradise Valley first and was happy to see a vehicle in almost every driveway. I crossed Old Springville Road to Georgebrook and interviewed one resident who was all smiles to be in her home again. I drove up Old Springville Road, the huge mountain of trees and Cosby Lake on my right, one base of that mountain being the backside of part of the Steeplechase neighborhood, the spot where in September I proposed to the most beautiful girl, Jessica.

I chose that area to surprise her because it’s the most peaceful, beautiful spot I could think of that’s close by. A tornado bothered that peacefulness.

But it’s on its way to being back.

Contact Gary Lloyd at news@trussvilletribune.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.

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