Hug between Beauregard grandma and granddaughter celebrated life amid horrific loss

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BEAUREGARD, Ala. (WRBL) – An emotional follow-up to the March 3rd Lee County tornadoes takes us to a bright yellow house in the Beauregard community where Tammy Cardwell lives with her husband and their dog Ginger.

In the moments after the storms hit, Cardwell’s hug with her granddaughter was broadcast on a WRBL Facebook Live, bringing thousands of families across the country into a bittersweet moment that celebrated life amid such horrific loss.

Monday, Tammy Cardwell reunited with News 3’s Elizabeth White, the reporter who interviewed her during that March 3rd Facebook Live. What many people don’t know is Cardwell and White have shared a friendship for many years before the catastrophic day.

“I was in a state of disbelief when I saw her walking down the hill from the devastation along Lee Road 38. What followed was a moment many of us will never forget, ” shared White.

During one of the darkest days in Lee County history, the hug shared between Cardwell and her granddaughter Addison gave us a sliver of comfort in the moments and months after the March 3rd tornadoes.

Eight months later, Cardwell stands on the porch of her new home built and donated to her family by the Fuller Center and Church of The Highlands.

She vaguely remembers her Facebook Live interview, but will never forget the feel of her granddaughter’s arms.

“I remember seeing Addison cause I told her she should not walk away from her mommy like that, but she needed her granny, and it was okay because I needed her too. It felt good,” shared Cardwell.

Cardwell’s yellow home is a bright spot along County Road 38, where the landscape remains scarred by the storm. Caldwell’s new home sits a few feet away from where she and her dog Ginger sheltered in a closet while their mobile home was destroyed around them.

“I wasn’t afraid to die. I was okay with that. I knew where I was going. I did pray for God to look after my family. Cause I didn’t think I would see them again,” shared Cardwell.

Cardwell compares the sound of the tornado to that of pure evil. She said when it was over; she heard cries for help from her neighbors.

“You could hear metal bending like it was nothing, trees breaking like toothpicks, it was just ugly and evil. I could hear voices calling for help. I was afraid to open the door of the closet. I yelled back that it’s gonna be okay, I called 911 and help is coming,” she said.

Cardwell lost several neighbors in the storm, out of respect for their families, she asked us not to share the names she will mourn forever.

“I would give anything to trade places with them. I would do it in an instant. They were so so young and had so much in front of them,” shared Cardwell.

Like the land surrounding her, the grandmother of four remains forever altered by March 3rd and the deadly tornados.

However, her gratefulness remains just as strong as her grief, and her community’s togetherness remains tougher than a tornado.

“My prayer, I think one of them, is the kindness and love that has been poured out in Lee County, Alabama, I hope it infects the whole country because that’s what it’s supposed to be about,” shared Cardwell.

Cardwell, her husband, and Ginger have been living in their new home for about two weeks now. They have the plan to build a storm shelter soon.

Cardwell says as time goes on, she continues to heal. She still sits at the top of the hill along Lee Road 38 and looks out at the damage that remains while she cries tears of gratefulness, grief, or a mixture of both.

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