Toney Neighborhood Slow To Recover From April 27, 2011 Tornadoes

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - The past few years, we've brought you stories of communities rebuilding, growing, and healing from the devastation of April 27th 2011.

But in some communities, progress is slow. People fear it's only a matter of time before another tornado brings destruction.

That's the case in Toney. Where one neighborhood currently has 20 plots of land remain empty, except for a concrete slab. Scars of what happened years ago. Homeowners either couldn't or wouldn't rebuild.

"You'd like to see everybody be able to build right back and come right in but as you can see there's plenty of slabs here that are the remainders of the houses that were around," said Vandiver, standing on one of the 20 empty plots of land on Old Eli Road.

Interest in the community has faltered. The empty lots, the leftover debris and growing weeds only keep potential buyers and the original homeowners away.

"People have to get confident in the area again. know that their values are in the homes, that they can count on that to come back in and build," said Vandiver. "There's just too many things working against them right now to come back in and build."

Unfortunately for the county, Vandiver says their hands are tied. The lots are private property, so they can't make decisions to sell or buy the land. They did apply for a FEMA grant that would allow them to remove the concrete slabs, making the property more appealing and affordable for buyers. However, the county wasn't awarded the grant.

"There is only one family that has rebuilt. Otherwise, we don't have the neighborhood that we had before," said Eunice Bello, a resident who remembers the fateful day.

"It sounded as if it was a train going over a trussle. The rumble. The
glass breaking."

Today, she grieves for the neighbors who never returned, and for the constant reminder of that horrible day, every time she leaves her house.

"I would love to have my neighborhood looking as it did before. Loving families with children having fun in the yard. People taking care of their property, mowing the lawn, 'hello neighbor!' These are things I would like to experience," said Bello.