MCMINN COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) -- The National Weather Service called what hit McMinn County an EF-2 tornado with winds of 130 miles per hour. More than 40 houses were damaged almost half of those houses were completely destroyed. Thankfully no fatalities. Those affected say it's an event they'll never forget.
"I thought it was black smoke coming I said what are the birds doing flying around it. Then I saw it was debris, I turned around took off and didn't look back," said Jeff Peery.
Peery lost half a house, three barns, two sheds and two silos as the EF-2 tornado ripped through parts of County Road 875. The life long cattle farmer is here to talk about it, and so are his two young kids who were on their way home from school, when it all went down.
"If I hadn't stopped at the mailbox, the kids woulda grabbed their book bags and got out of the truck. Some of us would be dead," said Peery.
Instead Jeff took off down the street drove a three mile loop and came back to what used to look like his home.
Meanwhile across the street Lonnie Thomas and his wife took minor damage to their home, but there furnished barn was decimated. He had to put down one of his three horses, one is still missing.
Thomas said,"it's so powerful, you can see it forming and you know it's coming. But you always think it's going to go over there, not over here. You realize how quickly things can change in the blink of an eye."
Lonnie. like many in the region are thankful to just be alive. He will rebuild, and as he learned from his time helping clean up after hurricane Katrina, things will return back to normal, in some cases better, "all of our neighbors are willing to help, there has been devastation, but some good things come from this. Even know it's devastating having to go through this, there's some really positive things that come from this too."
McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy has set up a Facebook page to assist clean up and rebuilding. If you can help leave a post and a phone number, if there is a need, they will get back to you. Joe Guy Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1841321369