We speak of April 27, 2011.
Area residents now are no longer tasked with explaining their intent when mentioning the date. Locals who allude to April 27, 2011, no longer find it necessary to mention it as “... the day and night those tornadoes hit.” It is already understood among most listeners.
In a manner of speaking, April 27, 2011, has taken distinct overtones — on a local scale — similar to American references to 9/11. The shock is just as real. The pain is equally as paralyzing. People remember the date. Residents still shudder at its mention. Most feel the fresh sting in reddened eyes when reflecting on the undeserved assault against an innocent people.
Nine died in our hometown community on this date. Their families suffered the ultimate loss — loved ones. The material loss was unprecedented — 285 homes and 10 businesses destroyed, many of which await their rebuilding, some of which will not rise again. Hundreds of others suffered extensive damage.
It has been a full year, yet its memory is fresh.
Images of mass destruction remain within us all. In some cases they are daily reminders in our drive to work and our return home — leveled houses whose debris still lies in heaps, ransacked forests whose felled trees serve as skeletal hints of those 12 hours of infamy when human prayer became the shared whisper heard in homes throughout our community.
It was truly the worst of times.
But we are rebuilding. Our recovery continues in full mode. Our direction is full speed ahead. The volunteer spirit is undying. Its evidence abounds by virtue of new construction, ongoing cleanup and planning for the future — each of which is an integral component of the coming communitywide “Day of Service” event scheduled for Saturday, April 28.
As we continue our rise from the ruins by embracing the potential of another day, it is appropriate to reflect on the happenings of April 27, 2011, and the myriad of observations scheduled one year later. The Cleveland Daily Banner begins our one-year coverage in today’s edition.
On our front page readers will find a detailed update of the many activities scheduled next Friday and Saturday. Our news staff will provide team coverage of as many as possible.
On Friday, a by-invitation-only luncheon recognizing volunteers and their organizations will be held, as will a home dedication that afternoon by the Long-Term Recovery Organization which is open to the public. The Recovery 2012 community memorial by the churches of Cleveland Net will be held at 7 p.m. at Conn Center. Later Friday evening, at 8:30 p.m. on the Waterville Elementary School track, the family of Evelyn Johnson — one of nine victims from the April 27, 2011, tornadoes — will hold a candlelight ceremony in honor of all whose lives were tragically taken.
On Saturday, a variety of partnering organizations will hold a communitywide “Day of Service” in which hundreds of volunteers are expected to fan out to all corners of the community to complete recovery projects. Volunteers will gather at a staging area at the former Food Lion on APD 40 at 9 a.m. to be given their assignments.
Throughout this week leading up to the Friday and Saturday events, our newspaper will publish multiple stories of family recoveries, a look back at the travesty of a year ago, work being carried out now and goals yet to be accomplished.
For most, the coming week will be one of remembrance, one of great sadness and one of recommitment to our future.
Understandably, emotions will flow and hearts will be heavy. Both are expected and each is appropriate.
As our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown reflects, we will welcome tomorrow ... because tomorrow is well worth living.