Tellico Plains tornado: one year later

By: Hilary Magacs Email
By: Hilary Magacs Email

TELLICO PLAINS, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Edward and Ruth White now live in a new home in Tellico Plains. They watched from their car as their old house on Swainson Street was destroyed by a tornado on March 2, 2012.

"I've never seen a house disappear like that one did. It had a tin roof on it and we never did find it. I was sitting there crying and praying, it was all I could do. I didn't think the wind could do something like that, but it sure did," said Edward White.

Like many people, the Whites lost everything.

Mayor Patrick Hawkins said between 40 and 50 homes were damaged or destroyed, and businesses were hit, too. The KOA campground never reopened.

"Looking back a year later, there's about a dozen vacant lots that had decided not to rebuild - decided to relocate for whatever reason. There's probably another dozen homes that have repaired their damage, and some today are still rebuilding because there was no insurance coverage or whatever," said Hawkins.

The Whites still miss their old home of 30 years, but are happy where they are now, especially because they'll be safer if another tornado comes through.

"We've got a basement here to go into now. If we'd been on that floor when it blew away, there'd be nothing left!" said White.

He may have lost everything in the tornado, but White said he feels lucky to be alive.

Hawkins said Tellico Plains is getting free tornado sirens from TVA. He said they'll be installed as soon as they're upgraded.

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