5 Years Later: Habitat for Humanity Helps Rebuild Tuscaloosa
As we approach the fifth anniversary of April 27, 2011, we look back at that day and towards our future with our special video series, "Five Years Later."
April 27, 2011.
In less than six minutes, Tuscaloosa changed forever. 12% of the city was destroyed. Over 7,000 people became unemployed after losing their businesses or jobs. 1,257 homes were destroyed and over 4,000 others were damaged.
52 lives were lost.
Recovery in Tuscaloosa began as soon as the tornado had passed; neighbors helped each other in their time of need, and volunteers from across the state, the nation, and the world came to help rebuild T-Town.
Habitat for Humanity played a crucial role in Tuscaloosa's recovery. I spoke with Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa Executive Director Ellen Potts about her memories of April 27, 2011 and the role Habitat for Humanity played in rebuilding T-Town.
Potts spoke about the shock she and her family experienced after the tornado passed. Her husband, a neurologist who practices in Tuscaloosa, almost immediately headed to DCH Regional Medical Center. DCH treated over 1,200 patients in its ER that night, and Potts said that treating the patients was overwhelming. Although the DCH staff and area doctors were faced with an almost insurmountable task, they rose to the occasion and helped bring healing to West Alabama.
So many in Tuscaloosa lost their homes, and Habitat for Humanity was there for our community when we needed them the most. Habitat assisted in repairing damaged homes and built new homes for families who lost theirs on April 27, 2011.
Habitat saw an influx of volunteers following the storm. Students from across the U.S.A. came to Tuscaloosa to help Habitat build new homes, some of which have returned year after year to assist with rebuilding efforts. In fact, Habitat has hosted volunteers from all over the world--all of whom traveled to help rebuild Tuscaloosa.
Habitat for Humanity partnered with the Nick's Kids Foundation in August of 2011. Terry Saban wanted to build 13 new homes in Alberta, one home for each of Alabama Football's national championships. After the Tide brought home championships in 2011 and 2012, the program was expanded to build 15 new homes--and almost immediately after the Tide defeated Clemson to claim #16, Terry Saban was raising funds to build a 16th Habitat House.
In the video above, Ellen Potts shared her memories of the rebuilding efforts in Tuscaloosa and the remarkable stories of Habitat home owners, remarking on the incredible strength and courage they showed after April 27, 2011.