A one-month perspective on the April tornado that left its mark - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

A one-month perspective on the April tornado that left its mark in Elmore County

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ELMORE CO., AL (WSFA) -

Elizabeth Rankin lives about two miles from Middle Road in Eclectic. Rankin knew two of the four people who died there on April 27th, friends gone too soon.

"We worked together," Rankin recalled.

While Rankin can never forget what happened in the Meyers mobile home park neighborhood, Rankin and her husband Eugene will always remember the help they received from volunteers, many of them strangers who stopped by.

The tornado on April 27th blew down 30 acres worth of trees all over their property. Simply put, they had a mess on their hands.

"We had people out here with tractors and backhoes," Rankin said.

And a truck load of kindness that never seem to stop.

"We had people who cleaned it all up in two days. There were 25 people here at one time," she said.

16 Autauga Academy students were among those volunteers, according to Rankin.

With a month's perspective, the Rankins recall the support they got and the lesson they learned. Never again will they dismiss tornado warnings.

"I used to go to bed during the warnings. Not anymore," Rankin said.

Talk about a close call for the couple. They took shelter in the middle room of their home while the tornado roared by. The storm missed their house of 40 years by just 30 feet.

"We'll be careful next time," said Rankin.

Missing their friends and counting their blessings one month later.

Jackie Cochran is doing the same thing.

Cochran got a brutal reminder that life isn't always a bed of roses. There are thorns along the way and nature pointed that out. Cochran works at what's left of Santuck Nursery.

"I'm worried about everything right now," said Cochran.

Santuck Nursery had 20 greenhouses, thousands of plants, 40 customers a day during peak season. Cochran tells us she isn't sure if the owner will rebuild, meaning she doesn't know if she'll have a job.

The tornado ripped away Cochran's job security within seconds on April 27th.

"We had more tables with stuff on it," Cochran said as she pointed to an empty area of the nursery.

It's been one month since the tornado came through but Jackie Cochran feels as though it happened 5 minutes ago. Even now she is shakened by what the storm did to the business.

"It was thriving at one point," said Cochran.

Although the nursery business has been splintered, Cochran sees the silver lining, pleasantly surprised by the number of people who have come by to check on her, the very people who lost so much.

You see, the nursery is Cochran's home away from home.. or at least it used to be.

"Everybody has come by to check on us to see if we're okay," she said.

As Cochran snaps off dead stems from plants, she often thinks about the one story that keeps coming back. It's the story of a local man, a customer who lost everything including his home yet he gave away his car to someone who needed it more.

An act of kindness in the midst of rubble in Santuck.

"Thank God," Cochran said.

Much like the plants Cochran cultivates, she knows she and the Santuck community will grow from the ordeal, stronger and wiser.

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