Appomattox County students find strength in the Power of One as tornado anniversary approaches

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APPOMATTOX COUNTY (WSLS10)-- People in Appomattox County are taking time this week to reflect on the past year, as the one-year anniversary of the deadly EF3 tornado approaches. One person died and several others were hurt, as the tornado damaged more than 200 homes in the county.

In the days after the storm, the Appomattox County High School football team played a major role in the cleanup process-- as the team worked to help neighbors and fellow classmates. School leaders say more than 50 students in the district were impacted by that storm, with their homes either damaged or completely destroyed. That impact on their classmates is part of what rallied the students to get out and help.

Destruction like this is something many people never see in a lifetime, and head football coach, Doug Smith, says seeing that destruction and being bale to come back from it has had a profound impact on many of the players.

"Definitely our kids and our teams see things a lot different," says Coach Smith. "They recognize the value of people, the value of their school and the value of their family. There's definitely a feeling of sensitivity toward others. Anytime you have a tragedy, good things can come out of it. That's some of the good that has come out of this."

Although there was a sense of sympathy and sadness during the cleanup process, there was also a community pride-- as the football team rallied around its slogan once again, "The Power of One." That saying has become somewhat of a rallying cry for not only the team but the entire community. Students say it stands for the strength of a region that has withstood teen suicide, students killed in car crashes, a pipeline explosion and a tornado, all in just a few years.

"I knew we were going to get through it," says high school senior, Xzavier Morgan. "God only puts his toughest soldiers through these battles, so we knew we were going to get through it. We built that on the Power of One and just ran with it."

As the one-year anniversary of the tornado approaches, Appomattox County High School continues to give back to the community, as the long process of healing and rebuilding continues.