By Erica Thomas, managing editor
PINSON — A tornado on the night of Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, left many people without a home in Jefferson County. One of the hardest hit areas was off of Pinson Valley Parkway, at Rusk Mobile Home Park. Although there were no injuries, many homes in the park were destroyed.
Homes were ripped in half, roofs were blown away and debris covered the roads inside the park.
Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight visited the park Tuesday. Knight said what he witnessed inside the community should inspire others.
“I see a community coming together at a time of crisis,” said Knight. “This could be an example for all America.”
The community gathered under a large tent and helped neighbors clean throughout the day. Many trailers were damaged and several were destroyed in the neighborhood. The American Red Cross responded to the community and handed out tarps and food to those in need.
Children, with smiles on their faces, played in the debris. During a time of crisis, those who lost everything were looking to lend a helping hand to their neighbors.
Pinson Mayor Joe Cochran also visited Rusk Mobile Home Park to see what needs he could help meet.
“There is complete devastation of the property but the most amazing thing is to see how this community pulls together,” said Cochran. “Just great people helping each other.”
Cochran contacted several local churches to try and find shelter 54 adults and 15 kids who had nowhere to go Tuesday night.
“These kids are all zoned to go to Pinson schools,” said Cochran. “Although they don’t live in Pinson incorporated, it doesn’t matter. They are part of our extended community and so anything people can do out there to try and gather the resources to help these people. If you look around, they are really taking care of themselves but there is going to be a financial burden here.”
Israel Albarabo, owner of Four Corner Contractors, heard about the damage early Tuesday morning and came to Rusk Mobile Home Park to help.
“I started helping everybody,” said Albarabo. “It’s a mostly Hispanic community and we know everybody and we just started helping.”
The groundskeeper of the mobile home park lives in a mobile home that was cut in two by a fallen tree. His Daughter, Miranda Webster quickly came to see the damage and to help the community she grew up in.
“We’ve never been in this situation,” said Webster. “Some things are salvageable. Some personal items, clothes and his bed survived.”
Webster’s father was not inside the trailer when it was hit by the tornado. He was across the street in a brick building. He said shortly after the tornado came through, he realized how bad the damage was and instantly went to find people. There were several people trapped but were rescued and no injuries were reported.
Amid the chaos and the sound of chainsaws and backhoes, laughter can be heard. The people living in the Rusk Mobile Home Park may not have their cars or other necessities and luxuries, but they are rich with love and a sense of community. Their positive attitudes and need to help one another is a fine example of what America is all about.