“I lost the biggest part of good in my whole life:” Phil Campbell woman remembers loved ones killed in deadly tornado 10 years later

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 6:48 PM CDT
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PHIL CAMPBELL, Ala. (WAFF) - Tuesday marks 10 years since a deadly tornado outbreak devastated Alabama. More than 200 Alabamians died as a result.

One of the hardest-hit areas was Phil Campbell. A quiet, quaint town of barely 1,000 people was torn apart when an EF 5 tornado ripped through Phil Campbell on April 27, 2011.

That day changed Vicki Galloway’s and many others’ lives forever.

“I just try to not think about it because it’s just a hurt that won’t go away,” said Galloway.

Galloway lost her mother, sister, and brother when they died in a mobile home during the storm.

“This is my mom, Nila Black. This is my Brother, Zan Reese Black. This is my sister, Sonya Black Trap,” explained Galloway, pointing at their names on a memorial plaque.

Galloway said that day is forever engraved in her memory.

“So I called Kevin, my nephew, and he works in Phil Campbell and I ask him would he check [on the family] and he said, ‘I already have and they won’t leave’ and we were going to take the ambulance over and get them and she said ‘No, he don’t feel good and I’m telling you we’re going to be OK,” said Galloway.

But in a matter of hours, their family’s lives changed forever.

And for Galloway, the loss is one thing that has not gotten easier with time.

“I go to the cemetery all the time. That is my go-to, but when I go, the part that is so strung is “It’ll be OK girl,” which was her all the time. When I would be upset about anything, “It’ll be OK, girl,” and I think that’s what she would want me to know, it’ll be OK, but it’s not. It’ll never be OK until I’m with them again,” said Galloway.

She has a message to those who second-guess whether to seek shelter in a storm.

“Just get out. Even if you have to go to town and get in a building. It is safer because out of everything in her house I found a little bitty ceramic chicken and that’s all I have that wasn’t broke,” said Galloway.

“I just know that I lost the biggest part of good in my whole life and nobody knows until something happens like this.”

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