RINGGOLD, Georgia (WDEF) – “We were sitting in the chairs – in recliners, by the way – with our shoes off, watching the weather.”
Five years later, Cherokee Valley Road resident Sandra Self recounts that historic day. Catoosa county had been under a tornado watch for over 6 hours. County offices had closed early due to the threat of severe weather.
“About 20 minutes after 8, the weather people said, ‘There is a tornado hitting Ringgold.'”
From a tuft of clouds in Jackson, Mississippi this supercell had spawned its 4th tornado.
“The power blinked once. My husband said, ‘That’s not good.’ And then we heard the wind. Wind sounds different when it’s building in intensity…. [My husband] said, ‘That’s the tornado – run.'”
“We tried to take cover. We didn’t have a basement. But we did all the right things – we went to an interior room, but we still got hit.”
Hit by an EF4 tornado, packing winds of 175 mph.
When Sandra found her way to her husband, she found her bible on the sub-floor above his head.
“And I couldn’t move it…. It was blown open and nailed down.”
On the page it was nailed open to, Sandra had underlined a verse.
“Job Chapter 12, part of verse 9 and 10. It said – go to the Earth and ask them. And it said, who among these does not know that the hand of the Lord hath done this.”
It took them more than 5 hours to make it to the road where emergency vehicles from as far away as De Kalb County Georgia were trying to make it up the road through the debris. But in the last 5 years they’ve rebuilt.
“Across the road….This time we have a basement. We have a safe room.”
“A lot of people have just moved on and gone on, but there’s some that still really struggle. Our neighbors, next door, still haven’t gotten their house rebuilt. They had one of those terrible stories… Dennis’s injuries still go on – 7 surgeries later. A lot of people still have a lot of trouble.”
Tragically 8 people lost their lives in Catoosa County in that tornado, and 12 more as the tornado crossed into Tennessee.
“I always tell people there’s 3 things they need to know then they hear these kinds of tornado watches and warnings – make sure you’re right with God because you may die. Second, keep your shoes on. And the third, listen to the local folks – they’re the one’s that can tell you what’s happening in your area and truly, they are trying to save your life.”