If you want to have something done in a snap-of-your-fingers timeframe, it’s definitely not going to happen that way- doesn’t matter if it’s traffic jams or tornadoes.
And while the folks of Ringgold are going as fast as they can, it’s still not fast enough for their liking. And, I’m sure, that’s on two fronts: one being the idea that you want to get on with your life and resume a “new” normal,” and two the idea that you want to get away from what went down in late April as quickly as humanly possible.
Remember what we said about timetables???
Videographer Gary Peacock and I went back one last time before football season starts to get the feel of the place, and there has been an astronomical amount of repair. Principal Sharon Vaughn says the 8th through 12th graders will be back in the high school itself by September 6th. That, in and of itself, is amazing… if you’ve seen what we have all spring and summer long here at gpb.org, you’ve seen the mountain this town (not just the school) has to climb- and they’re still doing it.
The Baymont Inn at exit 348 still looks like someone went after the roof with a hedge trimmer. There are gas stations and restaurants along that stretch of Alabama Highway that are abandoned and, presumably, left to stay that way. The Wendy’s wasted no time and got back on its feet. It’s hit and miss as to development and rebirth. There are homes that are in various stages of rebuilding in the subdivision just to the east- either completely redone, in the process of being rebuilt, or razed and forgotten.
And we’re talking neighbors that are faced with any number of those futures… churches are gone, houses are gone, and people are gone…
They may return, they may not…
The folks in Catoosa County are trying their hardest to draw revenue back to downtown, which is not on any main drag seen by an Interstate, and to the three exits that lead to Ringgold proper. They’re using every means they can get their hands on- Facebook seems to be pretty popular these days, and there are multiple groups vying for outside attention.
But if the school is a focal point for rebirth, renewal, and re-growth, then everyone involved gets a lot of credit. There have been crews working since April 29th in ten to twelve hour shifts to restore the school to where it is now.
Principal Sharon Vaughn gave us a tour of the school, and she illustrated the building's progress.
So, you tell me: how does it look??? Especially, when people are driven toward a common goal.
But all this work since late April lends you to one thought- everyone is dog tired.
Gary and I ran into Head football coach and Athletic Director Robert Akins as he got ready for his scrimmage against Ooltewah High and he was gassed… but there’s a lesson there about perseverance in a time of crisis.
And if you push back when someone or something pushes you, you find out about yourself and everyone around you as you fight together.
The folks of Ringgold have shown themselves to be hard-working, driven, and resolute toward dusting themselves off and telling Mother Nature to go jump in a lake somewhere. There will always be scars. The most visible one is on the mountain where the EF-5 left a streak of downed timber and roared toward Apison, Tennessee to finish the job it started.
But, sometimes, scars remind of us of accomplishment just as much of what you went through to get the job done.