Updated: Wednesday, 29 Apr 2009, 12:10 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 28 Apr 2009, 10:53 PM EDT
SUFFOLK, Va. - Across Suffolk, on April 28, 2009, children played together and neighbors prayed together.
"We thank you for bringing us through the past 365 days," went the grace before a party in the Saddler Heights neighborhood.
Survivors throughout the city remember how their lives changed one year ago.
"It's a blessing to come back and see the houses, but to come back and the last scene I saw was the tornado," Doris Moon told WAVY.com through tear-filled eyes. Moon flew in from New York for the anniversary. She was visiting when the tornado hit.
She and her granddaughter Noelle were in a house in the Hillpoint neighborhood when the tornado, ripped it apart. The twister, so fierce, threw them into a pond.
Moon said, "There were things flying that shouldn't have been flying. So I grabbed a hold of Noelle and I just put my arms around her, and God, and all of the saints above...I couldn't comprehend how long we were underneath the water, so I didn't know if she'd be ok or not, and we got to the surface and she was."
After 50 stitches and hospital stays for Moon and her granddaughter, they are both healthy.
Noelle's family moved into their new, rebuilt home earlier this month.
Frightening moments are still difficult to remember, but the community celebrated how far it's come in one year.
Saddler Heights was also devastated April 28, 2008. Miriam Lawrence's home of 52 years suffered so much damage it had to be rebuilt.
The day of the tornado, she was about to leave her job as a WalMart greeter. She told WAVY.com she saw the warnings on television and decided to stay put.
Hours later, she got within a couple of blocks of her home and met up with neighbors. One told Lawrence her home had been hit.
"She didn't know the exact extent, but the whole roof was gone. So at that point, I teared up and cried a little bit," Lawrence said. Then she called her daughter who took her to stay with her family.
In December, Lawrence moved into her new home, on the same lot. She said, "I missed the old one. I can't say that I don't, but this is really nice. I'm very thankful."
Lawrence and dozens of others in Saddler Heights celebrated their recovery.
"The neighborhood really grew closer, everybody was helping
other people and checking on people. It's really nice to have good
neighbors, it really is."
For a city that suffered $23 million worth of damage - and 0 deaths, coming together and making it through the last year is priceless.
Still shaking a little from the memories, Moon said, "That day was tears, but this day it's tears of joy."
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