We look back at the Easter Tornadoes that hit two years ago

Recovery: "it's challenging, it's a slow process"

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Today marks the two year anniversary of the tornadoes that came through the Tennessee Valley on Easter weekend.

An EF-3 Tornado caused devastating damage to the East Brainerd community that is still recovering.

“There was a loss of life and a large loss of property and it came at a really inopportune time because right in the middle of the pandemic when it was at that particular time, at its worst,” says Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger.

Hamilton County Emergency Management Planner Greg Smith says initially one of the biggest issues was clearing debris.

Smith says it took a village of people in the aftermath from firemen, EMS, and law enforcement to volunteers and community organizations.

“The vast majority of those volunteers were coming there specifically to do labor, hard labor. They knew that,” says Smith.

Greg Smith continues, “The Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that money came a little later when we realized what the greatest need was for those who could not necessarily help themselves.”

Mayor Coppinger says, “We’re really proud that a number of residents have already built back and a number intend to build back….We’re pleased in the recovery and the fact that people didn’t give into it and move away.”

Two years after devastating damage done to Grace Baptist Academy, the school is still rebuilding.

Matt Pollock, Head of School, says a third of the project is complete including a brand new football, baseball, and soccer field.

However, they are still waiting on the rest of the FEMA funds to finish the rest of the school.

“We have received about a million dollars from FEMA as kind of the first installment of tens of millions…it’s challenging, it’s a slow process, but we are very grateful for the support that comes from that source,” says Pollock.

Grace Baptist students are using the facilities currently at Morris Hill Baptist Church.

Pollock says they do not have a reopening date yet but hope this coming year, everything will be complete.

Pollock continues, “As I look around the campus now, all I see is hope. All I see is excitement. We haven’t forgotten the tragedy. We haven’t forgotten the destruction. But what is foremost on our mind is the opportunity of the future.”

Categories: Chattanooga, East Ridge, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News