BEAUREGARD, Ala. (WTVM) - Nine months ago, an EF-4 tornado tore through Lee County, taking the lives of 23 people.
Now that we’ve reached the holiday season, for many tornado survivors, this will be the first Thanksgiving and Christmas in their new homes.
Christmas decorations are perched throughout Cora Jones’ new home on Lee Road 39.
“Daddy used to have Christmas tree lights everywhere," she said. "He used to have it so pretty.”
This will be the first Thanksgiving and Christmas since the deadly March 3 tornadoes ravaged Lee County, killing 23.
For Jones, it’s also the first holiday season without her mother, father, and brother, who were all killed in the tornadoes.
“It’s been a long journey,” Jones said.
Despite the loss and the heartbreak and the tragedy, Jones is staying positive. They are missing loved ones at their holiday table, but this new home is bringing her family together.
“Everybody comes over here like it’s the homestead," she said. "The family and I sit out there on the porch and talk about what daddy used to do, what mama used to do.”
Gwendolyn Washington is also in a new home after the tornadoes. She said there’s a reason to celebrate this holiday season.
“Everyday is a day of thanksgiving," she said. "When I open my eyes, I have something to thank God for because we’re still here.”
Their holidays are a little different this year.
“This is the first year I didn’t invite everyone to come and have Thanksgiving dinner with us, all the people,” Washington said.
But her son said they’re making new holiday memories and rejoicing that they’re alive to do so.
“I still thank God. I’ll use this time to reflect on those good times," he said. "We’ll have plenty of stories to talk about, whoever comes by.”
Jones urged everyone to hug their loved ones a little tighter this holiday season and to make sure their friends and family know how much they love them.