According to the Bradley County Sheriff’s office, 26 homes were destroyed, with another 46 having sustained major damage.
As of Monday, 78 residents were using the emergency shelter, which was set up at the La Quinta Inn off exit 25. There were no reported fatalities in the area, according to BCSO.
Some of the severely damaged structures include The Church of Jesus Christ.
Pastor Dennis Hicks said that when he saw that there was a tornado watch for Bradley County, he told some of his members to go to the church for safety.
He said the basement of the church was built similarly to a bunker, with very thick cement walls, so he thought his members would be safer there.
The five church members who stayed at the church weren’t injured during the tornado, but Hicks didn’t expect the sides of the church walls to be completely blown out by the storm.
“The damage right there (happened) unknowingly to the ones inside. That’s very rare. And to see a building like this to still have a roof on it, and the walls gone, it’s something else,” Hicks said.
Hicks said the church didn’t have insurance.
Another family a few blocks down from the church were safe, but their garage wasn’t.
Misty and Donald Forgey said their son warned them about the storm blowing threw.
They said they ran to their other son’s house across the street because he had a basement. They ran to the basement just in time.
“So we just kind of jumped up, grabbed the dogs and headed up the street to my other son’s house, who has a basement, and we got him and his children and went into the basement. We were in there for about five minutes before we heard it hit,” Misty Forgey said.
She said it didn’t last very long.
By the time they went outside, first responders were already there, and her neighbor needed help.
“She was over here under debris of her mobile home, yelling for help, or, saying ‘she’s right here’ because they had flashlights over there. She said she broke all her fingernails trying to get out from under. Digging out from under it,” Misty Forgey said.
Forgey’s neighbor’s trailer was destroyed, with some of the debris landing in the Forgey’s yard.
One of Forgey’s other neighbors, Jason Marella, only had some tree damage in the backyard.
He said he was fortunate to not have that much damage. Based on what he heard and saw when the tornado blew threw, he was surprised he didn’t have more.
“Power went out and then…literally within 15 seconds, I heard the sound of rushing wind, gradually getting louder…coming from behind my house. And got louder and louder. House shook. Roof started shaking a little bit, ceiling was shaking. And then as quickly it started is as quickly as it passed,” Marella said.
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