LEE CO., Ala. (WTVM) - As the year comes to a close, many are looking back at 2019 and all that took place.
For some, there’s plenty to celebrate, but for Lee County, Alabama, the year came with a lot of tragedy.
“It was very rough the whole year,” said Cora Jones, who lost three family members in March 3rd’s tornadoes.
It was a rough year for thousands of Lee County residents who have dealt with one tragedy after the next in 2019.
“It hurts emotionally," Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said. "It’s definitely affected me just seeing so many people hurting.”
Four Auburn police officers were shot, one of whom was killed.
“This was the first time that’s happened in Auburn’s history,” said Jim Buston, Auburn’s city manager.
In March, a deadly tornado destroyed homes and took the lives of 23 people.
“It was downhill the whole year,” Jones said.
Fixtures in the community were killed in accidents like Auburn sportscaster Bod Bramblett and his wife Paula, who were killed in a car crash.
“[It was] a tragic event,” Buston said.
Opelika native and award-winning journalist, Nancy Parker Boyd, was killed in a plane crash while covering a story.
“We lost one of our favorite daughters,” Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller said.
The community was shaken by East Alabama college student Aniah Blanchard’s kidnapping and murder.
“I felt empty inside," Auburn resident, Mayra Ortiz, said. "I could feel my stomach twisting.”
And the list goes on.
“This year, based on everything I know as far as my time here in Lee County, it’s unprecedented as far as the amount of tragedy we’ve had,” Jones said.
But despite this unprecedented year and despite one heartbreak after the next, Lee County continues to persevere.
“Certainly the folks in Lee County are extremely resilient," Jones said. "They’re hardworking. They’ll move on, they’ll work to recover.”
As the community recovers, they have hope that 2020 will be different, a year of happiness and strength.
“If we can replace tragedy with hope and happiness in the coming year, I think we’ll be doing pretty good,” Jones said.