Saturday, April 27. Marks two years since a tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa.
Forty-four people died. Whole communities were destroyed.
This is a week long remembrance and celebration of how far the city has come.
Tuscaloosa city leaders broke ground on the new $7.5 million sanitation department headquarters.
The new facility will replace the one leveled during the tornado two years ago.
Environmental services director, Shane Daugherty says, "We're going to have a brand new administrative building. And have what I think will be one of the nicest municipality recycling plants in the state."Tuscaloosa mayor Walt Maddox says this is only one step in the continuous rebuilding process."It's really an exciting time, part of the focus of the second anniversary is what is happening instead of what is happened," says Maddox.Across Tuscaloosa, signs of progress. Construction sites and completed projectsin areas decimated that fateful day.
Maddox says this week is meant to celebrate these accomplishments. "We have one of the most robust recoveries that one can see when you have catastrophic damage. For the first year after the storm we focused on strategic planning and engineering, and infrastructure. The second year has been dedicated to rebuilding. $220 million worth of rebuilding efforts have occurred," says Maddox.Another recovery milestone being celebrated this week is the groundbreaking of the new Alberta Elementary School. A school that was destroyed when a tornado ripped through this area two years ago. The school will be renamed the Alberta School of Performing Arts.Principal Brenda Parker says the new school will incorporate performing arts with core curriculum.
Parker says rebuilding the school is evidence that better days are ahead."The whole community, where we live, where we work, where we've grown up is coming back to life and that is just an inspiration for us all to see," says Parker.
On Tuesday night, Mayor Maddox will make recommendations to the city council, on how to designate $48 million in housing and urban development monies provided to Tuscaloosa.