EF-4 tornado that flattened Ringgold still traumatizes survivors - CBS46 News

EF-4 tornado that flattened Ringgold still traumatizes survivors

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It has been more than two years since a tornado with winds of 175 miles per hour demolished homes and businesses in Ringgold, Catoosa County. But, the pain of the past is still visible in many parts of the city and the emotional scars run deep.

"That devastation is not the worst part. It's the aftermath," Myra Cochran said.

The Cochran family lives on Cherokee Valley Road, an area where the tornado ripped through the valley destroying dozens of homes and killing seven people.

"We barely made it to the basement," Cochran said. "I heard a big pop and I suppose that is when it took the house. We were very lucky. I got hit in the back, by I don't know what, while I was protecting my mother-in-law. If we hadn't had a basement we would have been dead. There were several people that died here that night."

The Cochrans said their home was underinsured, they had to build smaller. They own 64 acres of land, nearly all of the trees on their property were destroyed, it will cost $400,000 to remove them and insurance will not pay. Cochran, her husband, and two children didn't even move back into the newly built home until July of last year. More than a year after the EF-4 stole their sanity and the comforts of home.

"I can't say that I am over it, I more avoid it than get over it," Cochran said. "You have to focus on one thing at a time, one thing at a time."

Watching the tornado hit Moore, OK, brings back terrible memories for Cochran of the night her home was hit. Memories so powerful she can't bear to watch.

"The next year, two years, it is going to be rough on them - five years - I don't know how long it is going to take for them to recover," Cochran said. "The thought that was in my mind is the worst is yet to come. I know the death of the people is very difficult, and realizing you just lost everything you own. You don't expect to lose everything you own in five seconds. That devastation is not the worst part. It's the aftermath."

Some of the people who lived on Cherokee Valley Road when the storm hit have moved or decided not to rebuild. Cochran said, despite seeing the damage on a daily basis she isn't going to leave.

"This is home," Cochran said.

The worst part for Cochran is the feeling that they've been forgotten.

"There was an enormous amount of help here the first month and it's just like a death in the family, after the first month everybody forgets about you. They go back to their lives, but you can't go back to yours," Cochran said.

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