New monument for April 27, 2011 tornado victims unveiled in Mount Hope

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. - This Thursday marks six years since the unprecedented tornado outbreak of April 27, 2011. Over the last year, community members in Lawrence County worked to raise funds to help properly memorialize the victims in their county.

On Sunday, that mission became a reality as the monument was unveiled.

"It really means a lot to us that they're doing this memorial for everyone in the county that lost their lives," said Emily Reeves.

Nearly six years ago, an EF-5 tornado claimed 14 lives in the county she calls home, five in the tiny town of Mount Hope where the monument now stands.

Reeves lost her grandmother in those storms. Zora Lee Jones Hale, 80, lived just down the road from her granddaughter in Hillsboro. Emily had been out helping to clean up damage when she was told her grandmother was missing.

"Through all the debris, we finally made it over there and everything was gone," said Reeves. "It was like a ghost town, foundation was the only thing left."

It didn't take long for her to make the devastating discovery.

"After about the first fifteen minutes, I found her underneath, probably 20 feet of debris," Reeves said.

The painful memories will never go away, but the honor and respect for the lives lost will now live on thanks to Mount Hope's new tribute.

"Makes my heart smile," said Reeves. "I feel good about it. And I know where she's at."

All of 14 of the tornado victims' names are etched on the monument in Lawrence County. It is located in the park next to the Mount Hope Post Office.