DOUGHERTY CO., GA (WALB) - Tuesday marked the two year anniversary since the deadly tornado outbreak claimed 16 lives across Southwest Georgia.
Five of those people lived in Dougherty County, and leaders wanted to commemorate their lives.
Now, Dougherty County leaders are moving forward.
Leaders hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Radium Springs Memorial and renovation.
The memorial will be 12-feet tall with white columns.
The names of the five lives lost will be carved out of steel and wrapped around the columns.
These leaders say the damage in this county alone was estimated to be $2 billion.
Construction of the memorial is expected to be completed in approximately two months.
An official ribbon cutting will be scheduled once completed.
Not a single person was considered a stranger on Tuesday. Neighbors from all walks of life clutching each other two years to the day tragedy struck.
“There’s not a word for that," said John Bowen, a Radium Springs park caretakeer. "You knew people died, excuse me it’s touching. It was tough.”
Bowen cares for the Radium Springs park, as if it’s his own front yard. But, he never imagined his second home would be left desolate the way it was after the January 22, 2017 tornadoes.
“You see the houses, and the state they’re in, you don’t know if people lived through that,” Bowen said.
Bowen soon found out five people in Dougherty County lost their lives in the storm.
“That’s hard to take in one situation," he said. “It was tough, it was tough.”
But on Tuesday, family and friends gathered in hopes to see something beautiful reborn from the death and destruction.
“It’s important to recognize and remember the lives that were lost and the lessons we can learn from what happened,” said Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas.
The Radium Springs Memorial will soon stand 12 feet tall for the community to do just this, with tall, white columns with the names of the five people who lost their lives etched in steel.
“Their names will be etched in steel, but their memories will be forever etched in our hearts,” Cohilas said.
For Bowen, the memorial is the light he has been needing after a dark two years.
“We wondered if it would ever come," Bowen said. "But it has, and it’s beautiful.”
The memorial itself will take around 12 months to complete, and will cost around $265,000.
The county is also working to repair roads, sidewalks and the gazebo as a part of the Radium Springs project.
The project to rebuild Radium Springs is also officially underway, two years after the January 2017 tornadoes devastated the area.
Dougherty County received a $500,000 grant Tuesday to aid in the construction efforts.
The Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank presented the county with the check at this Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Radium Springs Memorial.
The overall Radium Springs rebuilding project is estimated to cost around $2 million.
The money will fund road repavements, sidewalk installations and rebuilding of the gazebo.
“I think the name is very appropriate. ‘Rebuilding Radium Springs’. This isn’t going to be a redo or a repave. This is an upgrade. It’s rebuilding. You’re going to have infrastructure better than you’ve ever had to get residents in an out. But also to connect existing and future community resources,” said David Cassell, strategic programs administrator.
The rest of the project funding will come from special purpose local options sales tax funds.
The project is expected to take several months to complete.