AFTER THE STORM: Five months later, Ringgold taking shape - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

AFTER THE STORM: Five months later, Ringgold taking shape

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RINGGOLD, CATOOSA COUNTY, GA (WRCB) - Five months after an EF4 tornado ravaged the Ringgold community, it is once again taking shape.

"We were really worried that people weren't going to want to come back," said resident Carol Gardenhire, "so it's nice to see our town coming back to life."

You can see it in the newly framed Hardees fast food restaurant, the reconstructed Taco Bell, Waffle House, and in the McDonald's coming soon.

"There's a lot of people out of work here because of all this happening," said Jason Patrykus, "so we need to get the job done."

Patrykus, who works with an Atlanta construction company, says there is a friendly competition among builders to see which business will reopen next on Old Alabama Road. He tells Channel 3 the new McDonald's will return better than ever. A grand opening is set for October 17th.

"This is going to be one of the biggest McDonald's in all of the Southeast," he said.

Ringgold residents are taking note of the improved buildings.

"A lot of the restaurants had been around a while and were looking a little run down," said Gardenhire, "but with all the new stuff we look better than ever."

To celebrate those new beginnings, Ringgold Peterbilt hosted a sign lighting party Thursday night. For the first time since the storm, an interstate sign illuminated the Peterbilt parking lot.

"It's to celebrate the fact that things are coming back and Ringgold is back in business," said Owner John Arscott.

The April 27th storm caused $1 million in damage to Arscott's business. He had supported the nonprofit group known as the First Response Team of America for years, providing trucks to help the organization respond to natural disasters. That same team showed up in Ringgold in April.

Thursday, the group's organizer returned to see the rebuilding progress.

"This is the second time I've been able to revisit a community we've been able to serve in," said Tad Agoglia, "and it's really wonderful to see the resilience and hope that the community has."

While several businesses are back to normal, scars can still be seen across town. Several hotels and gas stations sit untouched since the storms.

The memory of the eight people who lost their lives that day is still fresh on the minds of residents, but Ringgold refuses to be broken.

"We're back in business and business is doing quite well," said Arscott.

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