Facebook friends rally to help tornado survivors

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — The Easter tornadoes caused significant damage across our area, especially to those living on Jenkins Road in Chattanooga. One family barely made it to safety that night of the storms.

“I had one foot in the safe room and then the storm hit,” homeowner Elizabeth Catoe said. “There was no time to get my animals to safety or anything else. So that was hard because my dogs survived but my rabbit was crushed by a building.”

Catoe’s husband Bill took a flashlight and started checking on neighbors and turning off gas immediately after the storm passed.

“All our neighbors are okay as far as we know. But about the third morning I was bawling because I realized some of them will never be my neighbors again,” Catoe said. “They may choose not to rebuild. Their houses did not survive. It’s hard. This neighborhood will never be the same.”

Driving up and down Jenkins Road, it’s hard to find a house with the roof still attached, let alone one intact. The Catoes behind me are crediting God’s protection and their own precaution as to why their white metal roof weathered Easter’s storms.

“We were seconds away from losing it but we had extra screws because my husband did it himself and wanted it to be hurricane proof. So he doesn’t want the credit for it, but I’m like, we are the only roof,” Catoe said.

The rest of their property did not fare as well. A big barn, storage building, pool and trailer were all ripped a part in the couple’s backyard.

“The next morning, I asked for help on Facebook because I knew there was no way we could take care of everything ourselves,” Catoe said. “The first day there were about 50 people.”

“Just being able to see a friend and help a friend blesses me in return,” volunteer Hannah Tuggy said.

“She’ll say things from time to time, like ‘I’m just sad.'” Sue Hahn said. “When she says things like that I realize just how hard it is for her to see just her life in complete chaos. You know, they’re saying a lot these days that we’re stronger together, and I really do believe that.”

“We need each other,” Catoe said. “I could not have done in three months what these people have done. It’s just humbling, and overwhelming, and I’m very grateful.”

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Local News