Storm Victim: "It's good to be back home."
CLEVELAND, BRADLEY COUNTY (WRCB) -- It's been nearly nine months since tornadoes ravaged the Tennessee Valley, tearing apart houses and lives.
Many are still trying to get their lives back on track, but one family moved into a newly built home just in time for Christmas.
"It was dark, it was tough, stuff everywhere," says storm victim, Tim Garrett. "My neighbor here, it leveled his house, and it took his wife."
Neighbors picked up and moved. Garrett, uninsured with a leveled house and two children, was left with no answers.
"What am I gonna do now," he thought. "No home, what do I do?"
Tim's sister called Cleveland's Long Term Recovery Organization, and as Executive Director Jim Polier says, it was an easy choice.
"A father with disability, two kids, single, only some money provided," Polier says. "Kind of a no brainer, they needed help."
A few months later, Garrett sits proudly in not just his first new home, but the Long Term Recovery's first completed rebuild.
It's a proud moment for Polier and a laundry list of donors, but just the start.
House number two and three are already on their way up, and two more homes are planned for February.
Polier says, "We wanted the community to know that we're taking these funds that the community donated and actually using them to help resolve issues from the tornado."
Polier says 245 homes were destroyed by April's storms, and almost 200 were partially damaged. Most homeowners had insurance, so they're focusing on the hand full that didn't.
Meanwhile, the Garrett family is taking time this holiday season to appreciate the often overlooked feeling of normalcy.
"You just can't thank all the people who had something to do with this, you can't thank them enough," Garrett says. "It's good to be back home."
The LTRO says they should have at least six homes rebuilt by this time next year, on top of all the repairs being made.
Donations can still be made and dropped off at United Way's office in Cleveland.