After the storm: memories from Cherokee Valley Rd. remain strong as ever
RINGGOLD, GA (WRCB) - Two years have passed since a string of deadly tornados devastated the Tennessee Valley, and the harrowing tales about that night remain as vivid as ever.
An EF-4 tornado's path down Cherokee Valley Road, just outside of Ringgold, proved to be one of the deadliest in the area that night. Many people have returned to rebuild their homes, but others won't come back.
Cherokee Valley Road resident Norma Parris recounts the 30 seconds that changed her life forever. It started with sounds similar to a bomb.
"I started running to a half bath that we have under our stair case, and it hit as soon as I got in that bathroom," she remembered.
What she saw next was unlike anything she's ever seen before: leveled houses, trees pulled out of the ground and flipped cars.
"I just could not believe what I was seeing, and then I was just so grateful that I was safe. I didn't know what to do next," Parris said.
To this day, you can still see the scars on the landscape when you drive down Cherokee Valley Road. Much like the scars that are left on the minds of the people who live there. Eventually, Norma and her husband were ready to rebuild. It turned out her shelter during the storm was the only part of her house she could keep.
"We had to tear away everything else. This is the staircase. I was in a small bathroom on the under side of this, and that's how I stayed safe when I heard the tornado coming," she said showing a picture of the lone-standing staircase.
They were able to move back in by Thanksgiving of that same year.
"Some of our neighbors were not as fortunate. They were so traumatized that night they cannot come back here and live," Parris said.
But for the ones who did come back, their life will never be the same. Just like how the view off Norma's front porch has changed, so has her regard for mother nature.
"I certainly have a weather radio now, and I pay closer attention. It's more real once you've lived through a natural disaster," she said.
Though she has rebuilt her life the best she could, she recognizes there is still more work that needs done in her community. She hopes to lend a helping hand to anyone who needs it.