Monday, May 2, 2011

The Day of the Storms

Last Wednesday morning we all gathered around the TV at work to watch the weather.
We knew that we were getting some pretty bad storms, but in the back of our minds we figured that the mountains to the west of us would break them up as usual. Chattanooga hardly ever gets severe storm damage.

We all agreed we'd run here if the storm got bad.
Darrell, Bob and I were the only ones standing in the Parts Department.
We looked over the hotel and saw the winds begin to circle...
We knew it was time to seek shelter.
Darrell and I piled into my car and drove out towards the cabin.
In that instant, I hoped we would make it. I thought we had waited too late.
We made it in safely and waited for the one came.
The winds whined and howled. We watch a small dock almost give way to the storm.
I just knew we were right in the middle of our first tornado.
As quickly as it came, it was then gone....

We walked out to check the marina property and we found tops of trees twisted off, a couple of trees down, and the top of one of our docks peeled back a little.
This large tree fell across the walkway to one of our docks and had a few of our customers trapped with their boats. Our guys came out and quickly cleared the way.

This is part of the dock damage.
We thought we had seen something awful.
This was the worst I had ever been in and I was just sure that I had gone through my first tornado.

Mom and Dad's house got a lot of damage.
Ryan and I ran over to check out the trees down and the transformer that fell.

We heard that there were more storms coming.
Everyone said they'd be a lot worse.
For the first time that I can remember, Island Cove shut their doors early and sent the employees away.
By 2:00 Ryan, Caleb and I were heading home to seek shelter.
Caleb and I watched the radar in the living room while Ryan ran downstairs to make us a safe place to go.
We brought the chainsaw with us just in case we had to use it to get out.
The radio was telling neighbors to get together and tell each other where they would be taking cover in the event that thier home was damaged and they needed to be found.
The whole time I just couldn't believe we were discussing these plans.
This is Chattanooga. This is one of the safest places to live where weather is concerned.
Since Mom and Dad had no power, I texted them pictures of the radar.
Reports came in that Cleveland, Apison, and Ringgold were all hit hard.
Everyone around us was getting hit.
We experienced hail, rain and winds, but were protected.

Ryan held a piece for me to see....
Photo courtesy of Fred Boettcher
This is a picture of the EF-4 tornado that hit the Collegedale/Apison area.

Photo courtesy of Beasley Photography
This is a picture taken of Ringgold the morning after the tornado.

This is the tornado that ripped through Ringgold.

Our area has been devastated, but we've also seen miracles come out of this.
We have seen neighbors come together.
We have seen people thank God and praise His name.
We've seen people helping each other. They've dropped everything to come to those in need.
We've heard of survival stories and been amazed.

I do have a prayer request. We have new friends in Tellico that bought a camper across from my parents. Ryan and I had the pleasure of meeting them a couple of weekends ago. They lived in Ringgold and completely lost everything. Steve Dockery, his wife and two sons are without a home and could really use your prayers right now.
If you live in our area, Bayside Baptist Church is taking in non-perishable food items, paper goods, and toiletries to give to those in need in the Apison area. You may drop off donations until around 7:00 tonight.
You can also donate to the Red Cross or give blood.

Lastly, I want to tell you how grateful I am that God protected my loved ones through this storm.
One of the scariest things in life is knowing that people you love could be in the path of a natural disaster.
My home is a material thing and can be replaced. The people in it never could.

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