Singing for survival: What it means to be a 'Hometown Hero'

Singing for survival: What it means to be a 'Hometown Hero'
(Source: Bobby Thornton)
(Source: Bobby Thornton)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Saturday marks exactly six months since a third round of deadly tornadoes plowed through South Georgia, killing 16 people.

Bobby Thornton is a homegrown helper to many, and even a hero to some.

"We've came a long way as far as a community though," Thornton said, "Let me tell you something, I've seen the people of Albany go through absolute tragedy and now they're living life six months later, like it never happened."

The Hometown Heroes singer is too modest to call himself a hero, but on January 22, 2017, that's what he was to many affected by the tornadoes that devastated Southwest Georgia.

"I wasn't thinking of helping anybody at the moment of the tornado," Thornton said.

That fateful day, he, his wife and five kids sat down to watch TV, then heard the news of storms heading their way.

"I actually put my wife and kids in my truck to escape from the tornado because we lived in a trailer park and it was headed right for us. And I took a wrong turn. I was supposed to go right. And I didn't. I went left, and drove literally right into the path of the tornado," Thornton explained.

While driving, the tornado passed by his family in their truck. Thornton's wife saw people in homes, and he says he knew he had to help get them to safety. He broke his ankle, but the pain didn't stop him.

"I get a lot of credit for the stuff I did, but I'm going to just be honest with ya, I was just one guy with a broken leg at that and hardly no money to help people. So 99 percent of what I did was through other people," Thornton said.

It's his song "Hometown Heroes" that gives him strength.

"To this day we're still taking about half our music profits and putting them right back in our community here in Albany," Thornton said.

For Thornton, there's hope.

"That tornado brought out more heroes than I ever knew existed here. It renewed my faith in humanity some of the stuff I saw," Thornton said.

Thornton said the storm scared him so much that twice since January when the news has issued severe weather alerts, he's taken his family to a hotel to not have to relive the dangers he and his family faced that day.

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