Evergreen community gathers on eve of tornado anniversary

APPOMATTOX COUNTY (WSLS 10) - The Evergreen community came together Thursday night to show that it takes more than a tornado to divide their community.

Hundreds gathered in the Evergreen Baptist Church on the eve of the anniversary of that storm to celebrate how far the community has come in the rebuilding process.

The sanctuary at Evergreen Baptist, that was the site of a disaster relief effort a year ago, was filled with hundreds Thursday remembering the destruction the storm brought.

For Jake Burchette, it comes back like it was yesterday.

"I was walking back in the house, and the windows exploded. I dropped to the ground, covered my head. Soon as I hit the ground I got sucked into the funnel, thrown out of my house," said Burchette.

Burchette survived being thrown 150 feet by the tornado, but suffered a broken back.

But others, like Nancy Harris, were not so lucky.

She lost her husband in the storm.

"It was a horrible thing, and I still, it's still like I'm in a dream, a bad dream," said Harris.

Harris' niece Kristie organized Thursday's service.

She says these memories are painful, but important to show how far they've come.

"We want to remember where we were a year ago, but we also want to reflect on where we are now in the rebuilding process, but also to let people realize what God has done for us over the last year," said Kristie Harris.

What God has done is bring this small community closer than ever.

Burchette says that's part of what helps him make sense of the devastation a year later.

"It was a lot of bad that came from the storm, but in the end, it was also a lot of good. It brought a whole entire community, even surrounding communities coming in to help," said Burchette.