Pratt City residents stand strong 5 years after April 27 - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC


Pratt City residents stand strong 5 years after April 27

Barbara Jones' new home. (Source: WBRC video) Barbara Jones' new home. (Source: WBRC video)
The new fire house. (Source: WBRC video) The new fire house. (Source: WBRC video)
Shelia Hurd. (Source: WBRC video) Shelia Hurd. (Source: WBRC video)
Barbara Jones. (Source: WBRC video) Barbara Jones. (Source: WBRC video)
Clarence Ford. (Source: WBRC video) Clarence Ford. (Source: WBRC video)

One of Birmingham’s hardest hit communities is still trying to recover from the storms of April 27, 2011. In Pratt City, lives were lost and homes were destroyed. However five years later, the neighborhood’s residents are still standing strong.

“It’s kind of hard to remember now because it was just a real hard time and a lot of it I blocked out, I’ll be honest,” said Shelia Hurd, a resident of Pratt City.

April 27, 2011 was a dark day for Hurd. After the tornado touched down, she tried to get in touch with her mother who lived on Hibernian Street. She couldn’t get through the damaged neighborhood.

“We started going to hospitals looking for her, but we couldn’t find her in any hospitals,” she said.

Two days later, Hurd’s worst fear was confirmed. Bessie Reynolds Brewster lost her life in the storms.

“I don’t have a lot of pictures in my house because it’s hard for me to realize sometimes that she’s really gone,” said Hurd.

Hurd said it’s been a long road and learning how to live without her mom is something she’s still trying to get used to.

"Eventually you adjust somewhat as much as you can to the person not being there,” she said. “And so it’s a little easier but it’s almost as if you want the day to pass and no one say anything about it.”

Hurd lost her mother in the storms. Barbara Jones lost her home. WBRC FOX6 spoke with Jones in the aftermath of April 27.

“We had just prayed, asking God to watch over us,” said Jones in 2011. “As soon as we got through it was like boom, a noise I had never heard from.”

At the time, Jones was in a lift chair, unable to walk, and recovering from open heart surgery. Remarkably, she was OK. She was adamant about rebuilding on the same lot, and she did.

“Just a lot of memories that I couldn’t find nowhere else, and its peace and quiet,” she said about her neighborhood.

Today, her new house stands tall.

“You can’t tell me God can’t do it,” said Jones. “He can do it, but you have to have enough faith in knowing He can do it. He was just getting our attention for bigger and better things.”

“There’s a lot of love in this neighborhood, that’s one of the reasons I didn’t want to leave this neighborhood,” said Clarence Ford.

Ford is the North Pratt Neighborhood Association President. It’s a title he’s proud to hold.

He said the new library and fire station buildings are signs of rebirth, but it’s the people of Pratt City who truly remind him there is hope after the storm.

“I found out in life behind every dark cloud, there’s a brighter sunshine,” said Ford. “And I can see the difference right now from the progress we’ve made from that storm.”

Several projects are currently underway in the Pratt City community. A housing development, street improvements, and a new park are part of that plan. City leaders say those projects will be completed by 2019.

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