TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — The anniversary of a deadly tornado outbreak is being remembered by many in Tuscaloosa.

12 years ago, a deadly EF-4 tornado destroyed much of the city of Tuscaloosa and claimed 53 lives. Mayor Walt Maddox says it’s a day he will never forget.

“It is never far from our minds and every day there is something that will remind you of what happened on April 27th, 2011,” Maddox said. “For us, it’s a day of sadness because so many people lost so much on that day — whether it was a family member, their home or business.”

Pastor Kelvin Croom says he also will never be able to forget what happened in his community of Alberta on April 27. His church College Hill Missionary Baptist was totally destroyed. Watching his church and town having to be rebuilt from the wreckage was a painful journey.

“It was crushing. We had a long history there at College Hill Old Church and to see it in ruins, it really crushed my heart,” Croom said. “I know families who did lose loved ones. You learn to cope with [the pain] and live with it but it’s always an empty spot in your heart.”

253 Alabama residents were killed during the statewide tornado outbreak on April 27, 2011.