McMinn Co. families begin cleanup after tornado damage - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

McMinn Co. families begin cleanup after tornado damage

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MCMINN COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

Residents and crews are working to clear debris in the aftermath of an EF-2 tornado in McMinn and Polk counties.

It was an overwhelming sight as many families returned to their homes in Deerfield Estates on Friday, after being granted permission Thursday afternoon. 

Some homes like Timothy and Denise Ferguson's were unrecognizable, and considered a total loss. 

Their three bedroom, two bathroom house was torn into pieces and scattered across their lawn, leaving behind just the home's frame. 

"It pulled our house about five feet off of its foundation," Denise Ferguson said. "Then the house directly behind us somehow the tornado pushed it into the back of our house, and if we had anyone in that back room they would've been killed because there's just nothing left of that room." 

The couple said the damage is the result of a nightmare they will never forget. 

Timothy said he was tending to their dog when the storm was starting to grow. 

"The lights; electricity went off and I was about to turn to Denise and say hey we need to set an alarm, a battery powered alarm because I need to go to work the next day obviously and about that time that's when the hail started and boom," Timothy Ferguson said. 

Denise said she was in their main bedroom when the tornado actually hit. 

"I was kind of I guess in a daze because stuff hit me stuff cut me I and I had no idea until like hours later," Denise said. 

But the couple said they didn't realize what happened and how serious the damage was until they looked outside and saw their neighborhood turned upside down. 

"Just the magnitude of seeing those trees and the roofs pulled off of those brick homes. It made us realize how bad it really was. I never thought I'd live through something like this," Denise said. 

Timothy described the sight that still remains as a "war zone."

One house down from the Ferguson's is their neighbor, Jeanine Scherbath, who's home may be saved. She said most of the damage was done in the back of the home, carrying away a garage that used to house two cars. 

Scherbath has lived in her home with her husband since 2001. But she said she thought she almost lost him when the tornado hit. 

She recalls being apart from her husband for a couple of minutes during the tornado, before eventually meeting each other in the hallway. She said her husband then took her into another bedroom that had not been hit, looked her in the eyes and said 'I love you', then prayed for survival. 

Now, Scherbath and her husband, along with the Ferguson's and many others throughout the county are trying to move forward, with the help friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers. 

"It's been kind of overwhelming and it's almost like so surreal right now. We're just trying to get through this and then we'll do the next step because we have no idea what comes next," Denise said. "Sometimes you don't realize the friends that you have until something like this happens and it's just it's overwhelming. It's emotional, but thanks everybody."

The McMinn County Sheriff's Office is patrolling the hard hit areas, especially at night to keep out any looters, but to also help residents in any way possible. Sheriff Joe Guy said they will be doing so for the next couple of days, or until some power is restored. He said as of right now, they're taking it day by day. 

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