The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Staff Reports

Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2018 07:22 PM

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McMinn County Struggling To Recover Year After Deadly, Damaging EF2 Tornado In November 2016

MCMINN COUNTY - Dozens of families are still struggling after an EF-2 tornado tore through McMinn County two months ago.

Some lost everything as homes were completely leveled. But in the last two months, the community has made progress and some are even starting to rebuild.

“This was the living room. This was a bedroom,” said McMinn County resident Rick Shore.

The tornado leveled the barn in his family's back yard and tore through their roof, causing water to flood in.

“The sky lit up and I could actually see the funnel. So I run in the house, I hollered at my wife get into the safe room,” Rick said.

The storm was so strong it sent Shore’s trailer into the neighbor’s yard. His house suffered major damage inside.

“Everything on this half of the house got wet," he said. Everything on this half, it started to but we were able to get tarps up in time."

Their kitchen is still intact, as well as their two bedrooms but everything else was gutted.

“I’m just glad to see things being fixed,” he said.

Believe it or not, the Shore’s house is one of the lucky ones on the block.

“We have between 45 and 50 families that are still not home," Mary Brown, coordinator of the disaster relief center, said. "They are either in hotels, living with family or in some type of temporary housing."

Clothing and furniture offered by the center helps families, but the real work is in the rebuilding.

“You can see the ceiling is still open in some spots,” Shore said.

The Shores are working with contractors. They’re hoping the job will be done in about a month and a half.

“The biggest thing I’m learning with this whole thing is patience,” he said.

Families in McMinn County are still in need of help before they can get back into their homes. The disaster relief centers said its still looking for help with debris clean up. To volunteer contact the center at (423)-506-1404.