New handmade cross memorial in Beauregard comforts those who knew tornado victims

((Source: WTVM))
Updated: Mar. 6, 2019 at 9:04 PM EST
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BEAUREGARD, AL (WTVM) - Churches and organizations throughout the community and beyond are doing what they can to support family and friends who lost loved ones in Sunday’s torndaoes in Georgia and East Alabama.

Teresa Tolbert and her boyfriend were at her daughter’s home in Columbus when the tornado hit Sunday. They heard the ‘all clear’ signal and went outside.

Shortly afterward, they drove to Beauregard to see her boyfriend’s family.

“The house had been moved 30 feet from the original place that it was at,” Tolbert said. “It looked like a bomb had gone off.”

They later found out that several of her boyfriend’s family members died as a result of the tornado. She said the emotional toll on her boyfriend has been tough.

“He’s real quiet, but I know he’s really hurting," she said. "I can see the pain.”

The two of them came to Providence Baptist Church in Opelika Wednesday for disaster processing, to find out what to do next and to visit the new cross memorial built and delivered by Crosses for Losses.

Greg Zanis, the creator and founder of Crosses for Losses, drove over 800 miles from Aurora, Illinois. He’s made tens of thousands of crosses like the ones at Providence Baptist Church since he began this back in 1996.

“It’s not just a family here in Lee County, or just Alabama, but America," Zanis said. "This is our family here.”

This is the largest tornado memorial Zanis has ever built, and he said it’s been a difficult experience.

“I keep thinking I’m going to be strong, you know, but I’m just a liar," he said" I take a lot of this personally.”

Tolbert said coming here and seeing this memorial has brought her and her boyfriend comfort.

“At least you can feel close to them," she said. "That the world is recognizing these people, that these people have a name, that they have families.”

Each cross is handmade and the victims’ families get a duplicate cross of their own to keep.

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