Five years after deadly tornadoes, pain still lingers in Bledsoe County

Some still nervously watch skies when clouds darken

Kenny and Julia Kizzar, from left, stand amid rusting salvage parts from their business, Kizzar Automotive, in Bledsoe County's Pitts Gap community. The Kizzars are still trying to work out a settlement with their insurance company for the damage left by the 2011 storms.

BLEDSOE COUNTY, Tenn. - The green of new spring growth adds life to a mountaintop landscape cut by a half-mile-wide swath of dead, gray oak trees.

Five Christmases, five birthdays, five Aprils have passed since tornadoes tore across the South and through the Bledsoe County communities of Pitts Gap and New Harmony, claiming four lives and upending dozens of others and leaving its mark across the mountain.

The EF4 tornado with 200-mph-plus winds struck after nightfall on April 27, 2011.

Today when you mention it, people on the storm-scarred mountain east of Pikeville grow quiet. They might try to change the subject, or they dive right into their memories, emotions welling up with fresh pain.