City plans services to remember tornado

Adrienne Burch

The city of Tuscaloosa will hold a community memorial service on April 27 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the devastating EF4 tornado that tore through Tuscaloosa last spring.

The service is meant to honor the lives lost in the storm and pay tribute to the heroes in response and recovery from that day. The service will be held at Coleman Coliseum at 5 p.m.

The service is open to the public and admission is free.

“The ceremony will be a time of remembrance and healing as we recognize each of the victims from the storm,” said Meredith Lynch, public affairs coordinator for the city’s Incident Command Team.

The tornado tore through Tuscaloosa nearly a year ago, leaving a track of devastation close to six-miles wide and destroying 12 percent of the city. The storm took the lives of 53 residents, including six students at the University.

Lynch said there will be a time of reflection at exactly 5:13 p.m., the minute the tornado touched down in Tuscaloosa one year ago.

Terri Brewer from WVUA will be the master of ceremonies, and there will be musical performances by the Stillman College Concert Choir and “American Idol” contestant Justin Oliver.

Lynch also said there will be tribute videos played during the ceremony to honor first responders and to show the responses of community members.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, Tuscaloosa Probate Judge Hardy McCollum, and Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ted Sexton will each give presentations during the service. Interim University of Alabama President Judy Bonner will speak on behalf of UA. Dr. Kelvin Croom of College Hill Baptist and Pastor Shaun Faulkner of SOMA Church will be giving the invocation and closing prayer.

In addition to the city-sponsored ceremony planned for April 27, the city has declared a Week of Remembrance highlighting community-sponsored events occurring across Tuscaloosa during the week of the memorial.

The city council will vote to adopt or reject the Tuscaloosa Forward Generational Master Plan on Tuesday, April 24.

Several community events include the Shelton State Community College music department’s “An Evening of Remembrance,” a concert to commemorate the one-year mark from the storm.

The Alberta Community will host a community prayer vigil on Thursday, April 26 at the University Church of Christ, and there will be a Prayer Labyrinth Walk on April 27 at the First United Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa.

For times and more information regarding memorial events to take place during the week of the anniversary, visit the events calendar on Tuscaloosa Forward’s website, tuscaloosaforward.com

Any neighborhoods, churches or community groups that are hosting ceremonies or activities during the Week of Remembrance are encouraged to submit their events to the city’s community calendar by emailing city@tuscaloosa.com or calling 311.