Jacksonville family clears debris of private business, finds sentimental belongings

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JACKSONVILLE, Ala. -- When you are watching a natural disaster happen via the news or through social media, it's definitely sad. But when you see it for yourself, you start to imagine what it would be like if your own belongings were destroyed and gone forever, and then suddenly it becomes real.

"This is used to be a building, it had a front porch... Of course it's all over there now, across the street in the trees, and the backyard," said Terry Payton. He's speaking about his family's business, a fireworks warehouse off of Highway 204 in Jacksonville.

The family-owned fireworks stand once served the close-knit community of Jacksonville every summer, until Monday night when the stand and the fireworks were launched into the sky, not by a match, but by a tornado.

Though it thankfully wasn't a home, personal belongings were still scattered throughout the debris.

"Obviously they're running across a few things that are, you know, you can see it's heartbreaking," Payton said.

Personal items like a graduation cap and gown, children's trophies, Beanie Babies, A Chicken Soup For the Teenage Soul book, even an intact set of tea cups that belonged to the owner's grandmother.

This property is located right off of highway 204 in Jacksonville along the direct path of the tornado, and the community has come together to help anyone in any way that is needed. Volunteers and EMA officials gathered at the Jackson Community Center to be organized and deployed to provide assistance in whatever capacity was needed, whether that was using chain saws to clear roadway debris or to provide food and toiletries.

This family, like many others suffering personal property loss right now, will be cleaning up until the job is done....and it's time to move forward.

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