One year later: McMinn County family still rebuilding after torn - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

One year later: McMinn County family still rebuilding after tornado

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Ralph Newman, 69, cuts trees as a hobby, but for the past year it's felt more like a chore. About 20 trees were knocked down by a tornado which also damaged his home. He and his wife, Carolyn, were sleeping when the storm hit in the middle of the night.

"I climbed out of bed and went outside," says Ralph. 

"We had to dig out because the roof and everything fell in on us. Brick, insulation, wood," adds Carolyn.

Other family members were there including their granddaughter, Natalie, who was 14 years old at the time. She ended up with a broken ankle, three crushed vertebrae in her back, and a concussion. She's recovering well.

"Her dad had to dig her out from the rubble. So he and I carried her down and put her in my car and he took her to the hospital," says Carolyn as Ralph tries not to cry.

"She was knocked out," adds Ralph. 

It's been very emotional, especially for Ralph. While neighbors have rebuilt their homes, his remains broken. He continues hauling away the rubble, and he's only been able to clear about half of the trees that fell in his yard. He's a proud man and has wanted to do all the work himself, but his grandchildren have helped along the way.

The long process has made it difficult for him to forget what happened. Carolyn has been his rock.

READ MORE | One year later: McMinn County's Fairview neighborhood makes progress on tornado recovery

"I have good days and I have bad days," says Ralph.

"I know he's just depressed," says Carolyn "It's depressing to out your life work into something, like your home, and to just lose it in a matter of seconds."

They lost things which can be replaced, but they're grateful they still have their family which includes three children, nine grandchildren, and a great granddaughter who was born the day of the storm.

"The true things that we still have are what's important," adds Carolyn.

It's difficult to see the destruction which still lies on the Newman's land, but cleaning up what's left is all that stands between Ralph and the ability to move on.

READ MORE | One year later: Polk County fire station rebuilt after tornado destroyed it

"If I get my house back, it probably will. Get these trees up out of this yard. Because I like my place to look good," states Ralph.

The basement walls of their home are still standing. The Newmans say construction of their new home should finally begin in December.

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