Do you remember the Albany tornado of 1940?

Tornado's destruction

Thursday marked the 71st anniversary of an event that forever changed the landscape of Southwest Georgia and the city of Albany.

"It was a bad tornado and it destroyed a lot of things," said Benjamin Foster. He was just three-years-old on February 10th, 1940.

That's the day that a massive tornado ripped across Southwest Georgia in the predawn hours. The devastating cyclone tore through downtown, decimating homes and leveling businesses.

"Buildings started collapsing, a lot of things started happening, people trying to get to safe areas," said Tommy Gregors of Thronateeska Heritage Center.

The tornado left at least twelve dead and hundreds more injured and homeless. "We didn't have the rapid response, a lot of notification," said Gregors. "It just came and a lot of people were still in bed."

"We did not have the facilities with the departments like we got now," said Foster.

As the tornado moved through downtown, it actually came straight down Roosevelt and tore the roof off the train depot, which made getting much-needed supplies into Albany all the more difficult. "The rail lines then were a primary means of transportation and getting people moved in and out of town as well as goods," said Gregors.

The destruction also sent the local economy into an economic tailspin. Citizens were out of work and could not afford to rebuild. It took decades for the city and its citizens to fully recover but their perseverance was a lesson well-learned. "Unfortunately, we've had several disasters with the '94 and '98 floods, other tornadoes around the area," said Gregors. "Albany has always been a community that steps up."