VIDEO: County Commission to put flags at half staff to commemorate April 27 Tornado
April 25, 2017
Southern Torch (3737 articles)

VIDEO: County Commission to put flags at half staff to commemorate April 27 Tornado

PHOTO: The memorial to commemorate those that lost their lives, located at the DeKalb County Schools Coliseum in Rainsville. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — “The sixth item is that I’ve requested that our flags on our county buildings be placed at half staff in memory of the tragic tornado that hit our community in 2011, on April 27th,” said DeKalb County Commission President Ricky Harcrow.

Thursday marks the sixth year since a massive tornado raked across the county, taking with it 35 people in the area. The tornado killed 238 people across Alabama, and was later rated at an EF-5 when it passed through Rainsville, boasting wind peak greater than 200 miles per hour with a path measuring 33.8 miles long and 3/4 mile wide, according to the National Weather Service.

“I remember going to Rainsville that night, and stepping across body bags. For as long as I have the capacity to remember, I’ll remember that day,” said Harcrow.

Right side of the memorial in Rainsville, showing the names of those that lost their lives. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

The committee has chosen this year not to have a public event like we normally do in Rainsville, but they have requested that I make the announcement that it will not happen this year,” said Harcrow, “but I do want to encourage all of our municipalities, as well as issue executive orders to our county buildings, to fly our flags at half staff.”

“That was a desperate day for a lot of folks, a lot of friends and a lot family, we all saw a lot of graphic stuff at that time,” said DeWitt Jackson, District IV Commissioner.

“Our hearts and prayers still go out to the families of those who lost lives,” added Jackson.

District III Commissioner Chris Kuykendall said, “It was a difficult time. Everybody that was affected, personally…. It was heartening to see how quickly and positively the community reacted. They made the families suffering somewhat easier. These people should not be forgotten, that’s for sure.”

District I Commissioner Shane Wootten said, “I want to thank Commissioner Jackson and Commissioner Harcrow for offering to do this, I think it’s a great memorial for people that lost their lives that day. It was a very tragic day for DeKalb County, but what followed showed the heart of the people of DeKalb County. We’re glad to be able to honor them.”

District II Commissioner Scot Westbrook recounted the day, who was serving as a firefighter in Fort Payne at the time, “It was truly a tragic day…. We’ll never forget that. I have seen in the few years since a lot of progression made in preparedness, not only here in the community, but in the state, region, and across the nation. I too agree that bringing the flags down to half staff is a great statement and a very honorable thing for us to do.”

“Please continue to be prepared for these type of situations, because we never know when they are going to happen. As long as we are prepared, hopefully we won’t ever experience this great of loss in this area again,” Westbrook added.

County Attorney Charles E. Mauney recounted how some of his extended family lost everything in the storms, and then concurred that the tornadoes showed the “heart” of DeKalb County.

“As Commissioner Wootten said, it really showed family coming together as a family in this county. We love each other here, even though we don’t always agree,” said Mauney.

The commission also explained that the committee in charge of the memorial service had decided to hold a service each fifth year after the fatal storm, in-lieu of holding a ceremony each year, as had been done every year since that tragic day. The county commission will commemorate the day by lowering flags to half staff each year.

Watch the Full Video:


The next meeting of the DeKalb County Commission will be held on May 9th in the DeKalb County Activities Building, at 10 am.

Southern Torch

Southern Torch


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