Residents proud of rebuilding progress since tornado outbreak - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Residents proud of rebuilding progress since tornado outbreak

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More than two dozen people died when an EF-5 tore through Phil Campbell. Since then, the community and volunteers from across the country have pitched in to help rebuild the city. More than two dozen people died when an EF-5 tore through Phil Campbell. Since then, the community and volunteers from across the country have pitched in to help rebuild the city.
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PHIL CAMPBELL, AL (WAFF) -

The city of Phil Campbell has come a long way since April 27, 2011. Local leaders said their recovery wouldn't have been possible without the passion of dedication of those who live here. Most of the debris is gone, but the scars still remain in one of Alabama's hardest hit areas.

More than two dozen people died when an EF-5 tore through Phil Campbell. Since then, the community and volunteers from across the country have pitched in to help rebuild the city. There are constant projects happening within the city including repaving the roads and construction of a new splash pad.

Mayor Steve Bell said it's been a long three years, but he's proud of the progress made. "We've been fortunate to secure several grants," said Bell. "There were several in place when I took office right after the tornado, and we continue to get more aid, and more help, and more resources coming in. Volunteers, that's the heartbeat of all of it. Neighbors helping neighbors."

Superintendent Gary Williams said construction on the town's new school is about 75 percent complete, and students and teachers will be able to move in no later than the beginning of September.

Despite weather delays earlier in the year, crews worked around the clock building a new high school. Since 2011, students and staff were crammed into portable units as local leaders worked to rebuild Phil Campbell High. After three years, Superintendent Gary Williams said he was excited that crews would finally be able to remove those mobile units when school ends.

"It's very exciting to get things going into the new school," said Williams. "Students and administration have been in those mobile units for three years now. I'm sure they're stir crazy now. It's going to be a gold day when we move into that new building. It's going to be nice."

The construction process for 24 apartment homes began as well. They're expected to be ready by the end of the year.

Local leaders and community members were on hand Friday afternoon for the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Village at Oliver Place. The new homes were a result of a partnership between Community Action Partnership of Northwest Alabama, Neighbor Works America, and other local organizations. Developers hope the project will help to restore hope and promise of a brighter future for the city of Phil Campbell.

"A $4.5 million investment sometimes sounds like a lot but it's 24 new homes," said Michael Tubbs with CAPNA. "I know it's an apartment home, but still, 24 homes that are high quality, energy efficient for people, it's some of the best housing stocking that will ever be brought to this small rural town in Alabama, so we think this investment in Phil Campbell may bring people back to Phil Campbell, and that's a key thing for us. Not just the residents that are already here."

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