HARVEST, Ala. - Five years ago, Harvest Baptist Church became a hub for the community. They provided meals, clothes, toiletries, and organized volunteers.
Wednesday, many volunteers and victims came back. This time, it was to participate in a ceremony to honor those lost, and thank those who helped in the recovery in the days (and really years) following the devastating storms.
"Our roof was gone. I knew when we saw the sky that hey, our life had changed right then," said Ricky Knox. Knox lives in Harvest. He's thankful his family was safe, taking shelter during the storm. But it was a long cleanup.
People at the ceremony told WHNT News 19 that April 27, 2011 is forever on their minds, not just on its anniversaries, but in little moments. It's in the way they feel when an outdoor warning siren goes off. They remember it in the way they hang onto the articles of clothing they were wearing when they lost everything, or when they look at the belongings they were able to dig out of the rubble. Harvest was one of the communities hardest hit in Madison County, and something like that leaves a mark.
Some say the new moments though, including the candles, conversation, and ceremony at Harvest Baptist, are helpful.
"Everyone coming together and-- I think it helps everybody move forward," said Knox.
Faith continues to drive many in Harvest down the road ahead, but so does the spirit of a resilient community. That spirit was captured 5 years ago by countless volunteers who flooded the area to help wherever they could. It lived on in neighbors helping neighbors, and strangers. It's a bond the community won't lose.
"We could not have dug out on our own,"said Danny Walker, Harvest Baptist Church Disaster Coordinator. "So many trees down and rubble."
He said the ceremony was a celebration but also a way to connect people who helped one another.
"When you're in the moment sometimes you don't really appreciate it," he said, "So this is really a time for us to look back and thank them."
"We just felt very loved. So thank you," commented one storm victim to the audience.
It's that love for one another that Harvest wants to carry on, and pass along wherever it's needed next.
"It was a terrible day 5 years ago, but I guess you can look at the people now that know each other. That many have helped each other," said Knox.