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Firefighters remember Riegelwood tornado

It was nearly a year ago that a deadly tornado hit the small Riegelwood community. Monday, firefighters remember that day and plan to unveil a monument. Riegelwood firefighters raised the money to build the monument. They say it's not a memorial, but a celebration of the people's lives that were lost when the tornado touched down. "It was so much damage you couldn't even tell where you were on highway 87," Rescue Chief Donna Hammond said. "It was a horrible day, and we're a close-knit community so that made it even more difficult." "It looked like someone had taken a broom, a large broom and swept everything all over the place," Fire Chief Steve Camlin said. November 16 of last year, an F3 tornado touched down in Columbus County. "I go by there every day going home, and I'll never forget it," Donna Hammond said. The tornado claimed the lives of eight people. One of them, 23-year-old Michael Brown, was a volunteer firefighter responding to the call. Brown died before he even left his house. Firefighters say the monument is a part of the healing process, one they hope brings closure. "I think maybe it was a final farewell maybe to Mike, and a goodbye for the department for the citizens who perished that day," Chief Camlin said. The monument will stand seven feet tall, in front of the fire house. It will be four sided, and will resemble the Washington monument. On it will be the names of the eight people who died. The dedication of the monument will be on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 10 a.m. Firefighters say they want members of the community to come out and be a part of the ceremony.

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