An onlooker pauses to survey the damage just hours after an EF-5 tornado passed through Smithville on April 27. (C. Todd Sherman)
The tornado that hit Smithville crosses the state line into Alabama. (FRANKIE AKERS)
This sign outside the Monroe County Advanced Learning Center
was one of many around the campus welcoming Smithville students
displaced by the tornado. (C. Todd Sherman)
Flags were on display during the funeral procession for Vietnam Veteran Roy Lee “Peanut” Estis and his wife, Ruth, two of Monroe County’s 16 storm victims. (Deste Lee)
Mike Hathcock tears down what was left of the Smithville Police Department on Friday.
Hathcock is with the town of Smithville’s utility department. (Deste Lee)
Nick Webb and Brad Kennedy, along with other members
of the Monroe County Electric Power Association, work to
tie in an existing line with a new line along Highway 25 in Smithville on Friday. (Deste Lee)
Smithville residents take shelter from the rain and cold inside the remains of the
town’s Piggly Wiggly grocery store on Tuesday as they wait to see if they are eligible for
$2,000 checks from Three Rivers Planning and Development District. (C. Todd Sherman)
Smithville resident Ronald Armstrong receives a hot meal from Southern Baptist Convention
Disaster Relief volunteer Ramona Bullock of Oxford at the Red Cross shelter inside
First Baptist Church in Amory on Tuesday. (C. Todd Sherman)
Handwritten signs replace many of the street signs that were destroyed during the tornado in Smithville. (Deste Lee)
local officials, meets with the media in Smithville. (Deste Lee)
Less than 24 hours after the deadly tornado leveled Smithville on April 27, Mayor Gregg Kennedy held back tears as he reported, “Our town is flat.”
“To see what happened in 10 seconds – it was gone.”
But it wasn’t long before the recovery was under way, at least in terms of assistance and encouragement that the future would indeed bring a return to normal.
Gov. Haley Barbour visited the town, as did Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and other members of President Obama’s Cabinet. All offered their assistance.
More tangible help came in the form of checks from donors – both anonymous and public – to those who had lost their homes.
And for Smithville’s students, it was back to school, although in unfamiliar classrooms. Some went to Hatley, while others were sent to the Monroe County Advanced Learning Center to finish the year.
But for Smithville, “normal” will be a relative term.
As the Rev. Wes White told a communitywide service, “My world and yours changed at 3:47 p.m. on April 27.”