Easter and the Little Rock one year tornado anniversary sending message of hope

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- The Walnut Valley community joins together on the first anniversary of the March 31st tornado as a day of remembrance.

“I don’t think anything happens by chance, and so I think the Lord planned this. He knew that we would be going through the tornado, and he knew that the one-year anniversary was going to be on Easter. He is sending a message loud and clear that there is hope,” Sarah Langston said.

“We wanted to gather as a neighborhood to just think about where we were a year ago today and just to remember all the things that we are thankful for, the people who helped us, the lessons we learned, and just being thankful for our lives,” Langston said.

Langston remembers the March 31st tornado as if it happened just yesterday.

Little Rock Fire Department Station 9 reflects on March 31 tornado nearly a year later 

“Well, we were watching the local meteorologist to see the radar and to see the storm chasers, and when a storm chaser said he spotted rotation over Walnut Valley, that is when my family of seven went to our closet to take cover,” Langston said.

Sharing how scary it was taking shelter in the closet with her family of seven.

Langston remembered the sounds and, in the following days, the sea of red shirts, volunteers from two churches who came to help the community clean up, and much more.

“They just systematically worked their way up our street, and their women were making hot meals as well,” Langston said.

Reflections – The Day Arkansas Stood Still

Langston says it was a humbling experience to see the community come together and how so many people came to help.

She says, however, one group stood out: Station 9.

“Waves of firefighters, probably policemen as well, were walking our neighborhood, asking, ‘ Are you safe? ‘ and’ What can we do? ‘ They even showed up with axes, chopping debris out of the way,’ Langston said.

The Station 9 firefighters would soon become displaced, like many of those they helped, because the station was on the 32-mile tornado path.

“A lot of people think about first responders going out, and they don’t think about first responders needing help, but we didn’t either,” Station 9 Captain Ben Hammond said.

Little Rock business reflects on March 31 tornado, caught devastation on camera

Hammond said not only was the crew expected to help, but they were also trying to help one another, check on everyone at the station, and figure out their next steps.

The station is like a home for the crew, where they stay, and memories are made. Station 9 felt the loss, just like many homeowners and families.

Station 9 has been relocated to station 20, off Oak Meadow. Breckenridge is currently divided up among multiple stations for emergency calls.

“Our fire department and city officials they’re working on a temporary location to get us back into this area and also working on rebuilding the station 9, those plans are in place and there’s a timeline and they’re really working diligently,” Hammond said.

Hammond shares that events like this in the community mean everything to the station, to know that their community wants them back just as much as they want to be back.

“It was just very comforting to know that they were working to keep us safe cause many of us had to leave and couldn’t stay in our homes, but they were keeping watch for us,” Langston said.

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