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  • Age
  • Occupation
    Store Manager
  • Company
    Dollar General
  • Location
    Smithville, Miss.

As an enormous black cloud of a tornado barreled through the town of Smithville, Miss., on April 27, 2011, Richard Alred, the manager of the town’s Dollar General, told his employees to hunker down in the middle of the 7,000-square-foot store. Soon enough the twister ripped off the roof and walls around them; at one point, gusts lifted one of Alred’s colleagues several feet off the ground before he was able to catch her and pull her down to safety. “It was about 10 seconds of everything in the world flying through there,” Alred says. The twister claimed 17 lives. Since that awful day, Alred has never stopped trying to help the town recover, getting involved in numerous reconstruction efforts. The last of the town’s buildings to be rebuilt, a medical center, is expected to open in June.