The Long Road To Recovery For A Small Etowah County Community

ETOWAH COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — A pile of rubble is all that is left of the Handley’s two-story home on Horton Gap Road in the Smith Institute Community.

The Handleys are staying in Sardis City for the time being, so their neighbor, Hollis Burns, is helping them clean up.

“We’re in a wonderful community,” said Burns. “Everybody tries to look out for one another.”

His house was also hit by the EF-3 tornado that ripped through northern Etowah County.

Burns was lying in his bed asleep, when the storm came rumbling through early that Thursday morning.

“It woke me up and I heard it just keep getting worse and worse,” said Burns. “I said how much more can it take. And then wham. The roof went and trees hit the house. I went and looked up through the roof and saw stars. And then the rain poured down.”

In fact, every single house on his street was either damaged or destroyed.

Just last week, Etowah County was added to the federal disaster aid list.

“Thankfully I had insurance and it covers most of mine, but I know of five or six families right here in the immediate area that don’t have insurance,” said Burns. “They’re the ones that are really hurting.”

While the Burns’s house didn’t suffer as much damage as the Handley’s house, it still was a total loss. Their roof was ripped off, the house flooded and the walls shifted.

Burns and his wife, Linda, will spend the next six months living in a camping trailer on their property until their new house can be built.

“It’s very cramped,” said Burns, “but we’ll stay in it until we can get build back.”

Burns has lived on Horton Gap Road for 37 years and he doesn’t plan on going anywhere else.

“We are going to get back to normal, it will be a new normal,” said Burns.

He plans to build his new home just down the street on a piece of land overlooking a lake and his new home will have a basement with a safe room.

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