After The Storm: Bledsoe County building back stronger - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

After The Storm: One Year Later

After The Storm: Bledsoe County building back stronger

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BLEDSOE CO. (WRCB) -- In Bledsoe County, an EF-4 tornado claimed the lives of four people on April 27, 2011. Residents along New Harmony Road say the still broken trees are a painful, daily reminder of what happened one year ago.

"It got real quiet and the finally it blew the door off the hinges and it took the roof off and then all of us closed our eyes and started screaming," tornado victim Riley Wooden said.

Riley Wooden's family was in the hallway, carrying a mattress to the bathroom to seek shelter, when the powerful storm threw them hundreds of feet away from their suddenly non-existent home.

"Once you couldn't hear anybody screaming but yourself, you just figured everybody else was going to be dead and then figured you were going to die next," Wooden said.

They were injured, but all survived. Four neighbors didn't.

"I was going up the mountain and I just wanted to sit down and cry," Bledsoe County Mayor Bobby Collier said.

County leaders say building back has only begun in this farming community where residents lost their loved ones, homes and businesses all at once.

"I've always heard mountains protected us around here but that's obviously not the case," tornado victim and rescue worker Justin Jackson said.

But they say they're prepared if another comes. The Woodens are one of several families who've installed storm shelters.

Bledsoe County residents are building back stronger and more prepared, but say they pray they never relive the nightmare.

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