Chattanooga journalist who lost home in tornado: ‘I’m surprised more lives weren’t lost’

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WKRN) — Clean-up continues in Chattanooga two weeks after an EF-3 tornado caused extensive damage throughout the area.

Bliss Zechman and her roommate were inside their home in the East Brainerd community on the night of April 12, when the powerful storm hit.

“I had actually dead-bolted the chain lock on our door and I could hear it rattling back and forth and then all of a sudden, it just hit it out and it came toward the back of our house and a lot of our house came with it,” Zechman said.

She explained, “the insulation started to swirl all around us and we could feel the rain and wind gusts and just really in those moments held tight onto our dogs, held tight onto each other. It was pretty scary to say the least.”

Zechman, a journalist at the ABC affiliate in Chattanooga and alumnae of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, salvaged what little she could from what remained of her home before rushing to work to began reporting on the widespread damage.

“I think you realize the severity of it as soon as you walked out your door and saw just how destructive this storm was,” Zechman said. “A life is the most precious thing so of course whenever something like a storm rips that away, it hits you hard, especially knowing selfishly that could’ve been you.”

“To be completely candid, I’m surprised more lives weren’t lost,” she added.

Three people were killed in the storm, including a four-year-old boy, whose father was critically injured.

“We found out after his passing that he’s still a hero, even posthumously. He’s donating his organs so that others can live,” Zechman explained.

Officials in Chattanooga said an estimated 150 structures were damaged as a result of the tornado.

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