Alabama

Smiths Station man makes memorial bench in honor of March 3rd storm

SMITHS STATION, AL (WRBL) - A Smiths Station man found a way to give back to his community after the storm by crafting a special memorial gift made from the wood of a destroyed home.

Images of the tornado's destruction and death will be burned into the minds of every Chattahoochee Valley resident forever but there's something about a natural disaster that brings the good out in people.

Ralph Richards' home wasn't affected by the tornado, but he saw all the houses that were.
He immediately wanted to do something that would ensure that the memory of what happened on March 3rd never faded. 

"I wanted Smiths Station residents to have something to remember in future generations, like "Oh wow, I remember that storm" or "What's that storm all about?" Richards said. 

Richards said there was no way he could let people forget. "This will remind them of the dreadful day," he said.

He's worked with wood since he was in high school where he discovered a love for it. Its something he's really good at, so he decided on a bench. But what he made it from was shocking.

"Every piece of this wood is from the storm," Richards says.

After speaking with Mayor Copeland, Richards made his way to an area on the tornado's track, he came across Vickie Jones' trailer home. She says seeing the bench crafted from the wood that was once her home was humbling.

"It made me feel good. It's something that I worked hard for. I sacrificed and raised my kids,' Jones said.

Richards says it took him about two weeks to make. "About 4-5 hours away. I would go in the middle of the night and work on it. This is all done by hand, the wood burning.. it is done by hand," he said.

Mayor Bubba Copeland was happy with the outcome.

"From this point forward, we'll have a spot in history that will remind us where we've come from and where we're at," says Mayor Copeland.


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