A year ago Thursday, an EF-2 tornado hit McMinn County, damaging more than 200 homes and businesses and injuring 20 people.

Everyone survived, and now they are moving on either by rebuilding or finding new homes.

On State Highway 307, the Newman family lives in a new home.

"We're happy here," April Newman said.

More News

Next Story

Not Available

Just For You

Not Available


Not Available

Last year a tornado hit and destroyed their home.

"We lost everything," Newman said. "We lost our vehicles. The whole house was gone. We never found a whole piece."

Newman Family
The Newman family survived the November 2016 tornado that hit McMinn County and destroyed their home. One year later, they live in a rental and are still deciding whether to rebuild. 

Four hours later, after sawing through trees and debris, they made it to the hospital, where the Newman's granddaughter Ava was born.

"She's one today," Newman said. "That takes the focus off of it a lot too because she just keeps us so busy, and she's always smiling and so happy."

"It's encouraging to see the human spirit rebound and then seeing people smiling again," McMinn County Mayor John Gentry said. "It was traumatic for those folks."

MORE: Disaster relief groups help McMinn County residents rebuild

Gentry said there's been a lot of progress since then, despite not getting federal assistance.

"And even though your county may not receive a FEMA declaration, if you're that homeowner, you suffered a disaster," Gentry said.

MORE: McMinn County families struggle to rebuild one year after tornado

According to United Way and RAM volunteer Mary Brown, more than 200 homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed, and more than 150 families needed some sort of help. Now she says the vast majority of those families have either rebuilt or have moved into a permanent new home. She said at least 10 families are still displaced.

Although some of their family has started rebuilding, the Newmans have not decided whether they'll rebuild or move to a new, permanent home. Right now they live in a rental. Their focus is having a peaceful holiday season with the whole family together.

"Our faith is definitely stronger," Newman said. "Our family is closer."