Hallmark Family Recovering After Tornado Deaths

Northeast Alabama
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April 27th is filled with stories of entire families being killed in the storms.  One of those families is the Hallmarks.  Five died in the Ruth community of Marshall County.

We sat down with Ricky and Regina Hallmark to talk about the loss they are still dealing with one year later.

On April 28, 2011 the sound of the roaring wind was gone.  But evidence of its ruthlessness was all around on the Hallmark property in Marshall County.

Phillip and Ann Hallmark and their son and daughter-in-law, Shane and Jennifer Hallmark, were gone.  The Hallmarks' grandson, 15-month-old Jayden Hallmark, was also taken.

"It's been a journey.  It's been a rough year for us," said Ricky Hallmark.  "But with the Lord's help and grace we've got through it."

Jayden is the son of Ricky and Regina Hallmark and the twin brother of Julie.  She survived the storm, but spent weeks recovering.

"She's doing well," said Regina Hallmark.  "Cleared by all the doctors.  She's been taken off all seizure meds.  Progressing like a normal two-year-old should be.  We are blessed.  God's took care of us.  We are so thankful to have her."

In the days after April 27th, Ricky and Regina dealt with what most of us would find unimaginable -- planning five funerals, while also living at the hospital.

They say it was their faith and the kindness from strangers that pulled them through.

"When we got to Atlanta, we didn't know anybody," said Regina. "People started showing up out of the blue bringing us gifts and checking on us.  And I think that touched us the most."

The family was in Atlanta for rehabilitation.

A year after the storm, the signs of death are still visible at the Hallmark property.  But a symbol that those who were lost are not far away -- Ann Hallmark's flowers are blooming, more beautiful than ever.

Thursday evening, the community of Ruth planted trees in memory of the Hallmarks and all of the victims of the April 27th tornadoes.

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