RINGGOLD, GA (WRCB) - A Ringgold church destroyed in April 2011 after a deadly tornado outbreak is finally rebuilt. As businesses have re-opened one by one, many in the community say Mt. Peria Baptist Church was the last piece of the puzzle to move forward from that tragic day.
It's been a long 19 months of storm recovery for Mt. Peria Baptist Church in Ringgold, but now they've risen from the rubble and are thanking everyone in the community that helped them along the way.
"April 27, 2011 it torn down our church," church member Willie Mae Rutledge said.
The EF-4 tornado ravaged Mt. Peria Baptist Church. "Like time stopped," JoAnn Lumpkin said.
It only leaving behind some bricks and boards.
"It was like home. I was devastated," Lili Ford said.
"It was so sad losing our church the way we did," Donna McGill said.
Through several fundraisers, the community stepped in to cover the costs that exceeded insurance reimbursement. "The Lord blessed people with donations from all walks of life," Pastor Jimmy Ingram said.
Now, after several months of construction, tears turned to joy as a motorcade made its way to the new church Sunday.
"We just felt the power of God as we were going into the brand new structure," Pastor Ingram said.
"I'm in awe. It's so beautiful," McGill said.
"All I could say is wow," JoAnn Lumpkin said.
They're lifting their voices and cheering with more members now than before the storm. "I can recall the old place before. We called it a building. Now we're in the house," Robert Harris said.
"Great. Happy. Thank you God," Rutledge said.
"To see what it is now. God. Where we came from and where we is now," Moses Lumpkin said.
Many who lost their own homes in the tornado say this brings the closure they been awaiting. "That's what we've been waiting for the neighborhood to be complete," Ludie Wymbs said.
They have a special symbol displayed front and center. "We have a beautiful rainbow that symbolizes that that storm is over," Pastor Ingram said.
So many people attended Sunday they actually had to bring in more chairs to fit everybody in. They're hoping that enthusiasm continues next Sunday and many after.