One year later: McMinn County's Fairview neighborhood makes progress on tornado recovery
For decades the Fairview Christian Academy filled a large lot on a hill in Athens until a tornado took it all away last November.
For decades the Fairview Christian Academy filled a large lot on a hill in Athens until a tornado took it all away last November. Ever since, the students have been going to class in a much smaller former pre-school building. Administrator Greg Ranck says the students adjusted fairly well, trying to forget about the destruction.
"As I always say, kids are resilient. I f you give them a place to go and something to do, that'll keep their minds occupied," says Ranck.
The school was made up of four buildings. The new school will be just one, unifying all students from Pre-K through 12th grade. Ranck believes this will help them do god's work even better.
"Now, through what some would call a tragedy, He's going to give us something which I feel like is going to be more conducive to the ministry we're trying to have here," adds Ranck.
Ground has been broken for the new school and Ranck hopes it will be open to start the 2018-2019 school year.
Next door is Fairview Baptist Church. Its original auditorium was destroyed by the tornado. Its newer one, built in 2010, was damaged. Several other churches offered their spaces for worship, but pastor Jack Scallions politely declined because he wanted to keep his congregation together.
"We were all of a sudden pushed back into our pioneer spirit. We were meeting in a warehouse. Facilities, some people would say, were not the greatest. But it drew our people together," recalls Scallions.
They were able to resume services in the repaired auditorium six months after the storm.
Scallions says, in a way, the tornado was one of the best things that happened in his 44 years at the church. He says it taught people lessons about self-sacrifice, and trusting god and everything else in their lives.
"It gave us an understanding that the church is not made up of the buildings. The church is the people," says Scallions.