2011 tornado victims reunited with first responders

Reported by: Erik Avanier
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Updated: 9/01/2013 11:43 pm
HAMILTON COUNTY, Tennessee(WDEF) - Two years after tornado's ripped through the Tennessee Valley, an East Hamilton County couple were reunited with the first responders who saved their lives.

The reunion was very emotional for Joy and Bob Colby. Their story started back in the spring of 2011 when a tornado spun through Eastern Hamilton County and destroyed their home. At one point the two were trapped under debris that included a 1300lb safe.

"I had nine broken bones. A broken clavicle. My clavicle came off my sternum from the pressure of the gun safe," said Joy Colby as she sat next to her husband.

Once the storm passed, rescue crews were in the area looking for survivors and that's when the couple said they heard the sound of chainsaws.

"It was like angels singing. We knew that we were not alone and the first responders were coming," Joy said.

Since that horrific event, the couple have rebuilt their home on the same site and even added a fortified storm shelter should history ever repeat itself. During the past two years of rebuilding, the couple has also had time to reflect on their experience and the people who came to their rescue.  Hamilton County paramedic Michael Chaigne remembered that eventful day.

"We were the first people dispatched to the location initially," said Chaigne

"We think about the first responders everyday because we're reminded everyday on the news of what they do for other people," said Bob Colby as he thought about first responders like Chaigne.

By 2pm on sunny and hot Sunday, Chaigne and other first responders exchanged hugs and congratulations with the Colby's.

"It's great to see that everybody is healthy and that they were able to rebuild  and redo their lives here. It's awesome," said Chaigne.

"We don't get a lot of praise but that's the one time that we do and we we just do our job and that's what we're paid to do," said Chaigne when asked about the praise he and his fellow first responders received.

As for the Colby's, they had one message for all first responders.

"Thank you for the people who came to our rescue. Thank you for the people who came to other people's rescue and just thank them for the job that they do," said the Bob Colby.

The same storm that destroyed the Colby's home was also responsible for destruction throughout parts of Alabama and Georgia.
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