2011 survivors help latest victims of Alabama tornadoes

This is some of the devastation suffered in Clay, Ala., when a tornado tore through the town on Jan. 23. The swath of storms killed two people near Birmingham and destroyed or heavily damaged more than 460 homes.

CLAY, Ala. -- Survivors still haunted by memories of last year's tornado outbreak that killed 250 in Alabama are writing checks, donating diapers and standing over hot grills to help victims of the latest twisters to pummel the state.

The April 27 outbreak of 62 tornadoes that swept across the state in waves caused more than $1 billion in damage, injured more than 2,000 people and destroyed or damaged nearly 24,000 homes. The storms leveled neighborhoods and virtually wiped out some towns.

The latest outbreak of at least 10 tornadoes this week ravaged central Alabama, killing two people near Birmingham and destroying or badly damaging more than 460 homes.

Rick Johnson is still living with relatives and friends after two tornadoes last year killed four people and splintered his home in rural Cordova, where the downtown area is still in shambles.

When the latest twisters hit last week, Johnson stepped up. He volunteered to cook 200 pounds of donated chicken and help deliver hot meals to volunteers, workers and storm victims in Center Point, about 45 miles from his hometown.

"You know what they're going through. You know what they feel. It's hard to describe," said Johnson, 55.

Leaders from President Barack Obama on down praised the generosity and volunteering spirit of Alabamians after last year's tornados. The people who needed help last year, many of whom are still removing debris and rebuilding, have been among those lending a hand this time around.

The Alabama Emergency Management Agency said 2,511 victims of last year's storms were still living in temporary housing.

For Leah Bromley, helping out victims of the latest twisters is all about repaying kindness. Mountains of donated clothes and furniture flooded her hometown of Tuscaloosa after a twister killed nearly 50 people there last year.

"I just really believe in paying it forward," said Bromley, who started Rebuild Tuscaloosa, a nonprofit organization formed after last year's twisters to solicit donations and distribute money and services for relief. Now, it's helping out in communities far from Tuscaloosa.

A University of Alabama sorority from Tuscaloosa gave donations to help victims of the latest twisters northeast of Birmingham, and a group brought more from Cullman, which also got slammed last year.