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Tellico Plains storm victims turn to faith

11:11 AM, Mar 5, 2012   |    comments
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The National Weather Service confirmed Sunday afternoon that an EF-2 tornado is to blame for the destruction in the town of Tellico Plains.

A survey team with the NWS reported the tornado was 400 yards wide and was on the ground for more than 14 miles.

The count of destroyed homes continues to rise. The latest numbers from city officials show 24 were destroyed and more than 50 others sustained damage.

Thankfully only a couple of people suffered minor injuries.

With so much debris left to clean up, many churches canceled their services and asked their members to come out to help volunteer.

"God spared me and my family, so since we're able we should be able to come help," said Hank Parker, a Tellico Plains volunteer firefighter.

Many faithful residents say it's part of their beliefs to give back.

"I feel that it's a higher calling to come, it's our duty," Parker said.

Those who couldn't work a chain saw, found other ways to be useful.

"All the churches are taking turns feeding [emergency workers]. Three meals a day," Parker said.

Tellico High School served as both a church fellowship hall and emergency operations center Sunday morning.

"Lord, we could've suffered some casualities, folks could've been injured. You didn't see fit for that to happen. We're thankful for that, Jesus," Pastor Roman Hamilton prayed.

Folks stopped by to pray and sing in a last minute community church service inside the school cafeteria, giving thanks for what the tornado spared.

The deputy governor toured the damage in Tellico Plains and other parts of the state today.

Officials have closed all Monroe County schools on Monday. Roads in the affected areas are closed to everyone except residents.

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