Rodney and June Shirey

Rodney and June Shirey pose for a photo at their new home on Seventh Avenue Northeast in Jacksonville. The Shireys' former home on Mountain Brook Drive overlooking a beautiful wooded hillside was damaged in the March 19 tornado. (Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)

June and Rodney Shirey had lived in their Mountain Brook Drive home for 35 years when the storm struck last year. In the immediate aftermath there was a sense of confusion about what to do next, the couple said.

“Everyone we talked to experienced some absent-mindedness,” June said recently.

“Your body is in shock, but you don’t even know,” Rodney said.

The morning after the tornado, June and her daughter, Lauren, began going through what remained of the house. They took pictures to show their insurance company the damage what would need to be replaced.

Rodney began clearing debris from their yard and trying to remove a tree that had crashed through their roof. The task seemed daunting, but six volunteers came to help with chainsaws and heavy equipment, Rodney said, and by the end of the day the yard had been cleared. The strangers’ help deeply touched the Shireys, they said.

While the couple stayed at Rodney’s cousin’s house they thought over their next move. They found a rental property not far from their old home, and their insurance company covered a significant portion of their expenses. June said many of their neighbors had difficulty negotiating with their insurance companies, and some are still displaced a year later, she said.

The Shireys decided to leave their old home behind, and found a new place in Jacksonville, on Seventh Avenue. They moved in early December and were still getting everything sorted earlier this month. Artwork that used to hang in their old home was still waiting to be displayed.

The Shireys said they came out of the ordeal about as well as could be hoped for.

“I just think about how fortunate we are,” June said.

Rodney had a similar outlook.

“We’ll never be the same, but we’ll be alright,” he said.