After the Storm: Local business lost in small community - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

After the Storm: Local business lost in small community

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Paula Wagner made the County Line Grocery in McDonald, Tennessee her life for five years.

She owned, operated, and cooked at the store, working 16 hours a day, seven days a week happily catering to her customers.

"They were like my family. It was a big, happy family," says Wagner.

Now all that stands are a concrete slab and damaged fuel pumps after an EF-4 tornado totally destroyed this landmark of the small community last April 27. 

Paula and her husband, Allen, live just up the road. It still hurts to see the empty lot when passing by.

"When you drive by I can still see everybody at that table, and I'll always have that," says Wagner.

The now vacant property sits on Old Alabama Road SW in Bradley County, just over the Hamilton County line. For 10 years Floyd McKamey would stop by daily for good food and a little gossip.

"Good people to deal with and chat with, tell lies to," recalls McKamey as he laughs.

This hub of activity was wiped off the map in seconds.

"Getting used to coming here and then all of a sudden it's gone," says McKamey. "Then you really miss it."

Allen would hang out and help Paula at the store after long days of working at his own business.

"We'd come down, sit and drink coffee and shoot the bull. Then I'd help her close up for the night," says Allen.

He went on to say the entire disaster brought the community closer together. And even though Paula was getting ready to sell the business and had closed the store not long before that stormy day, memories are all she has.

"I had already made that change in my life, but I'll still miss it," says Paula.

The decision may have been a blessing in disguise and, says Paula, may have saved her life.

"I thank God I wasn't here, because if the store had been open I would have been here," says Paula.

Since the tornado, Paula has taken on some hobbies at home and helps Allen with his business.

She says she hopes someone opens another special store in the same spot someday.

She adds she may even consider working there, but with shorter hours.

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