Parts of Madison County still slow to recover after April 27th tornadoes

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Three vacant lots sit along Old Eli Road in Toney. (Photo: Christine Killimayer, WHNT News 19)

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Rooftops line the north end of Old Eli Road in Toney, but empty lots still litter the south end. Much of the street was leveled by an EF-5 tornado on April 27, 2011.

Five years later and not much has changed there. Concrete slabs continue to mark the lack of progress.

“I would love to have my neighborhood looking as it did before,” said resident Eunice Bello in a 2014 interview. “Loving families with children having fun in the yard. People taking care of their property, mowing the lawn, calling out hello neighbor! These are things I would like to experience.”

Two years have passed and she still does not have her neighborhood of old. Roughly 30 lots sit abandoned and overgrown, just at the threshold of rejuvenation.

Shards of broken mirrors lay in the ghosts of foyers reflecting the lingering fear of that catastrophic day.

Madison County was denied a FEMA grant following the storms that would have allowed the lots to be cleared. Leaders hoped it would make the neighborhood more appealing to home buyers.

Still, they continue to hope that new life can grow from the remaining small piles of five-year-old debris.

“People have to get confident in the area again, know that there’s value in the homes there, and can count on that to come in and rebuild,” said Madison County Commissioner Phil Vandiver.

Potts Construction, LLC, owns about 20 of the 30 vacant lots. WHNT News 19 reached out to the company. The owner says he does plan to rebuild on the sites but does not yet have a timeline for construction.

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