Local campground makes come back after April storms
HIXSON, HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- It's been just more than two months since the April tornadoes ravaged the Tennessee Valley.
During the first round of storms, a Middle Valley campground was severely damaged.
Since then, they've been hard at work and they say they're open for business.
"Thank God there was only five people in the camp that morning," says camp manager Terry Lowman.
Camp Columbus was nailed by the first storms that rocked Chattanooga. Mother nature rolled in before lunchtime.
Lowman and those who were there gathered at the pavilion.
"We saw the tornado form over the water," says Lowman.
It was later determined to be an EF-0. Though, Lowman didn't hear the oft described freight train.
"We didn't hear the train. All we heard was picnic tables and chairs moving around underneath the pavilion and we actually thought that it had probably not done anything until we came out and saw the bottoms of campers where they'd been flipped over," says Lowman.
About 20 campers were destroyed that day. The residents are members here and most are on site for about seven months out of the year.
This is more a story of survival and recovery and of people coming together to return to normal.
"Everyone was shocked and devastated to begin with and then it was just like, all right, let's get it done," says Lowman.
The campers themselves, only two didn't return, began rebuilding almost immediately.
"Well, I'm not a carpenter, so it was a learning experience to say the least." We're putting it back together, piece by piece," says resident Darren Elrod.
Mission: accomplished. Camp Columbus has been returned to being Chattanooga's best kept secret. With peaceful, quiet vistas, fishing, and a wedding chapel right on the lake.
They never even lost a day's rental at their pavilion. How? A spirit described in the words on a sign Lowman has posted in her home.
"I just don't give up," says Lowman.
To prove they're not giving up and Camp Columbus is back, they invite all to join them for their annual fourth of July celebration on the lake. They promise food, fun and fireworks. Gates open to the public at 5 pm and close at 11.
Camp Columbus is in Hixson. Click here to visit their website.