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Evergreen continues rebuilding one year after deadly tornado

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EVERGREEN (WSLS 10) - It's been one year. One year since the destruction. One year since fields were filled with countless people.

"The emergency people trying to keep out the onlookers, people looking for help, what do I do, what can I do?" recalled John Hinkle with Evergreen Baptist Church

A lot of the 'what can I do's' came from ordinary people lending a hand that would pull Evergreen through the toughest days, weeks, and months that would follow the devastation.

"You see over here where the American flag is, that's where one house was wiped out and that area is still not completely cleaned," said Hinkle as he walked me through parts of Evergreen.

One year later visible scars still remain. Pieces of twisted metal, parts of homes, belongings of residents that used to call Evergreen their home piled up in what would otherwise be an open field. But everyday life prior to the tornado has returned.

"Back to normal, but some people are still in the grieving mode," continued Hinkle.

But there has also been a lot of excitement.

"I don't know what to say it's great to be back here," said Thomas Brown. He moved into a brand-new home four months ago after his home of more than 20 years was destroyed in the storm.

"I can't say we are back to 100 percent, but are about 75 and we're just hanging in there doing what we need to do," said Brown.

The tornado nearly killed his wife and grandson who were both still inside when the twister came barreling through. A year later, the fear of those few drastic moments still has Brown's grandson asking questions.

"He'll see the clouds come through and he says 'is another tornado coming through papa' and I say no God has our protection this evening," said Brown.

Even with constant reminders scattered around Evergreen, there was never any doubt that Thomas Brown would rebuild.

"We were coming back To Evergreen, we were coming back to Evergreen," said Brown.

Thomas joked that he was planning on downsizing his home in the next five years and that the tornado helped him get it done faster.

That's just one of the positive stories that popped up even hours after the tornado hit.


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