Monument unveiling honors Riegelwood victims

The community of Riegelwood continues to recover by remembering those they lost in an unforgettable tragedy one year ago. In the aftermath of a deadly tornado the community of Riegelwood rallied together to support one another. Just a year later survivors and those who came to their aid joined together again to remember those they loss.

One year later and one year older, Cheyanne Browne continues to live her life. However, she will have to do it without her father. Her grandmother Glinda Browne said, “If you ask Cheyanne where her daddy is, she’ll tell you that he’s in heaven, but then she’ll say that he’s in my heart too.”

A year ago, Cheyanne’s life and the Riegelwood community changed forever when a tornado ripped through the small town killing eight people including her father Michael.

Fire Chief Steve Camlin remembers the day the tornado swept through town. “We saw mass chaos, we saw cars turned upside down, debris all over the place, we had people walking up to us wounded, bleeding, and I had to take a moment to not cry and just to get a grip on reality.”

Cheyanne’s father, who worked as a firefighter, died in the line of duty, so to remember him and the seven other victims, the town unveiled a monument in their honor.

The emotional ceremony was one way people in the town of Riegelwood continue their healing process. Camlin said, “It was a day that a lot of us dreaded because of the emotions that we still have inside of us, but it did a good deal to the community and to the departments that responded especially ours to remember Michael in a positive attitude.”

Even though the monument will serve as a reminder to the community, Browne says she won’t be able to forget the day she lost her son.

“When you lose somebody, your own child like Michael, you never get over it, never.”

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