Local mom prepares for severe weather - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local mom prepares for severe weather

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CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB) -

With the first threat of severe storms this year upon the Tennessee Valley Thursday night, it's a good time to make sure you're prepared.

"It's better to be prepared instead of just waiting," says Holly Metcalf. This has been her philosophy ever since her parents' Ooltewah home was destroyed by a tornado on March 2nd, 2012.

She lives in a very small house in Cleveland but felt better taking shelter at her parents' larger house that day. She, her mom, and son Jaxson, then two years old, quickly ran to a closet under a staircase once they realized the tornado was approaching.

"We're literally ripping stuff out of the closet, throwing it behind us," recalls Metcalf.

After the storm passed they were covered in heavy debris. Holly managed to escape and get her mother loose. They finally found Jaxson but thought he might not be alive.

"When I got to him he wasn't moving, and he was still," recalls Metcalf, holding back tears. "When I pulled it {the debris} off I saw his eyes blink, and I thought at least he's alive. But he wouldn't respond."

Thankfully, all Jaxson suffered was a broken leg, and he's been doing fine since. Realizing her family was luckily to have survived, Metcalf doesn't want to be caught off guard again and has taken steps to better prepare in case she can't leave her house.

"I can't always run with my kids. I can't always pick up and leave," explains Metcalf. "I'm going to have to figure out what I can do to be smarter, be safer."

She bought a weather radio and keeps pillows, blankets, and helmets ready if she hears about severe weather in the forecast.

Her father, George Foster, pays a lot more attention, too.

"We watch the news a lot closer now, especially if we hear the weather's getting bad, or we happen to walk outside, and it feels like it did that day."

His home has been rebuilt under stricter codes, and it's much more durable and sturdier than the old one. It's also hurricane-clipped to the foundation. While he realizes this won't hold up against an EF-4 or EF-5 tornado, he and his wife feel safer overall. They also have a better room in which to seek shelter. It's their new laundry room and it has no windows in it.

With their new plans in place, Foster and his family are at least a little less nervous during severe storms. The idea is to be prepared so you don't panic. Foster also says to never think a tornado will not strike your home.

"I never thought that it would happen to us like a lot of people think. But you are the other people," says Foster.

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