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East Alabama community remembers tornado victims during candlelight memorial

Updated: Mar. 3, 2021 at 11:52 PM EST
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LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WTVM) - March 3 is a day many in the Chattahoochee Valley will never forget.

In 2019, and EF-4 tornado tore through Georgia and Alabama claiming dozens of lives. An East Alabama community spent Wednesday remembering those lives lost two years ago in Lee County, ending with a candlelight memorial service.

The day ended with a candlelight memorial service at the memorial for the tornado victims at Providence Baptist Church.

“She was like air in my lungs and and a shadow that’s no longer there,” said David Thornton.

Thornton lost his 10-year-old daughter, Taylor, on March 3, 2019 in Lee County.

“It was just a normal Sunday until that afternoon and everything was upside down,” Thornton said.

Taylor was one of 23 victims whose lives were remembered Wednesday at the candlelight memorial service for the tornado victims. County officials recall responding to the devastation two years ago.

“I’ve lived here all my life, dealt with mass fatalities, but when it’s in your own backyard it’s a different ballgame. I work and live with these folks everyday and it’s hard. It was probably the hardest case I’ve ever had to work,” said Lee County Coroner Bill Harris.

“It has been a great day of remembering those lives that were lost and honoring those that are living, and that was our goal. We wanted these people to know that we haven’t forgotten about them two years later. We still pray for them. We still care about them,” said Rita Smith, Lee County EMA director.

There is not a day that passes Taylor is not on Thornton’s mind.

“Very, very emotional. Every day is an emotional day, but today especially because we’re remembering not just Taylor, but we’re remembering a whole bunch of people who have lost their lives and families who have lost people. So, it’s a rollercoaster,” Thornton described.

The candlelight vigil was held around a memorial for the victims, which has their names and pictures etched in it.

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